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Reggie Cannon earns first USMNT call-up

Sep 1, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon (2) controls the ball against Houston Dynamo at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon was named to the United States men’s national team roster for upcoming friendlies against Peru and Colombia.

Cannon has been an integral part of FCD’s success, playing in every competitive match this season. He’s accumulated 2,651 Major League Soccer minutes this year after only playing one-minute last season.

“It’s an always an honor to represent the country,” Cannon said. “I had people calling me, congratulating me. I always have to get my feet set when some big news comes like this. It’s a good thing. I’m kinda ecstatic, I don’t know how to take it. The way I’ve been playing, I’ve honestly deserved a look but I never thought it would actually happen. It’s a great feeling and I can’t wait to actually get into the camp and get my feet set to the national team pool.”

The 20-year-old defender has proved himself ready for the big stage. Coming up through FCD’s academy, Cannon elected to play a season of collegiate soccer at UCLA. He played in 20 matches before signing with Dallas on a homegrown contract Dec. 22, 2016.

Cannon will join two other FC Dallas Academy products: Schalke FC’s Weston McKennie and the Colorado Rapids’ Kellyn Acosta. McKennie elected to leave for Germany instead of signing a homegrown deal with the club, while Acosta was traded in the midst of a frustrating 2018 season.

“It’s going to be a joy to see Kellyn and Weston again,” Cannon said. “I grew with the guys and these guys have always pushed my level to the next level. Weston, I was struggling to keep up with him in the academy. He would be that star in the first team training when we were 16 and 17. It was hard for me to focus on myself with someone as good as him, playing alongside someone like him. As for Kellyn, he helped through the rough-year that was last year and he pushed me to keep going and keep working extra. He helped me in the off-season and invited me into his hospitality to make me a lot better and I really respect that. It’s going to be an honor to play with them again and I’m excited.”

It took a little bit of time for Cannon to get his chance, but when he did, he proved his worth. His one-on-one defending has been among of the best in MLS and he has gained confidence going forward, something he’s worked on all season. Coach Oscar Pareja encouraged him to do so, wanting his fullbacks to push up high and join the attack. The result has been three assists for Cannon and an increased presence up the field.

He studies other players, looking at Sporting Kansas City right back Graham Zusi as an example of fullback going forward. Cannon also looks at New York Red Bulls right back Michael Murillo for defensive and technical ability.

“It’s a ridiculous transformation if you honestly look at it,” Cannon said. “From one minute last year to 2,500 minutes this year and starting every game. It’s crazy when you really think about it, and Oscar really gave me that confidence at the end of last year to keep going and push for that starting spot. I honestly did not see myself starting, especially after the tough year I had last year. It was a setback in my career, but honestly, without it, I don’t think I would be ready.”

However, Cannon said the job isn’t done yet for him, even with the international call-up. He wants to reach the pinnacle of the league.

“It’s been a surreal journey so far but I haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Cannon said. “Hopefully we can win MLS Cup at the end of the year.”

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