After a long MLS season, which can last 10 months, the offseason can be a time to relax and take a break from soccer.
That’s not the case for FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon.
After a successful 2018 campaign for the homegrown player, Cannon has continued to train in preparation for the United States men’s national team’s January Camp. It’s the first camp held by new coach Gregg Berhalter, and Cannon hopes to impress. He’s been working out with Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who also will be at camp, and FC Dallas teammate Jacori Hayes.
Cannon has not spoken to Berhalter yet since his appointment to head coach of the national team, but the two did speak after FCD’s 0-0 draw against the Crew Sept. 15.
“I think he’s a great fit for the job,” Cannon said. “Look at the way Columbus played, they’re a special team. I think he’s definitely the right person for the job. It’ll be interesting to see in January camp what faces he brings in and what he’ll do to change, to see what changes are needed. With all due respect to Dave Sarachan, we just needed some change and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
This year could be a big one for Cannon. He has one year of MLS behind him and more national-team experience. He has sparked interest from outside of the league. Most importantly, he’s grown into his role with Dallas and is eyeing success at a higher level than before.
“For 2019, I want it to be more my year,” Cannon said. “I want be able to get more assists, get more goals and [I] want to be more involved in that attack. I want to see where my talent takes me after I got over this first year, got all the butterflies out and now I’m just one of the guys. I gotta be comfortable and I want to grow into my element. I just wanna be a better player.”
2018 has been such an amazing year. From the people I’ve met, to the support I’ve received from the fans, to the goals I have achieved, to the dreams I’ve come closer to, and to the most… https://t.co/kQP0zsr5ns
— Reggie Cannon (@ReggieCannon15) January 1, 2019
Cannon started in 33 regular-season matches for FC Dallas last year, only missing the team’s 1-0 loss against D.C. United on Oct. 13 due to an international call-up. He ranked 12th in MLS for minutes played with 2,921, which also ranked third among homegrowns, behind only Philadelphia Union centerback Auston Trusty (3,060) and San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima (3,049).
Cannon, like the rest of his team, was disappointed in FC Dallas’ 2-1 loss in the first round of the playoffs against eventual MLS Cup finalist Portland, but when reflecting on the 2018 season highlighted the positives: his first USMNT call-up, his first goal and the Player of the Year award he received from the Dallas Beer Guardians supporters’ group.
“It’d probably either be scoring my first goal or getting that award from the Beer Guardians and all the fans, that MVP award,” Cannon said of his favorite moment. “You can tell by my reaction. I couldn’t really control it because it meant a lot for me, just to see how far I’ve come and the support. It really meant a lot. That really sums up my year, coming from a rough 2017 to start almost every game and make my debut and be capped by the national team. It’s just been like a dream in 2018.”
The 2019 offseason brings a new dynamic for Cannon. Instead of fighting for a spot in the starting XI, he’s fighting for a spot on his national team. He’s training to move up the ranks in the world, not just in MLS. CBSSports.com reported Cannon has multiple Liga MX offers on the table. Cannon confirmed some of the report was true.
“Yeah, there’s some truth to it,” Cannon said. “Obviously, you can’t believe everything you read, but it’s just been a kind of stressful offseason with a lot of people contacting me and seeing where I’m at. I think I have a lot more to learn to take that next leap, and when the time comes, it comes. But right now my heart is with FC Dallas, and that is where it belongs.”
Cannon also is dealing with coaching changes at both club and country levels. FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja left for Liga MX side Club Tijuana and Berhalter replaced USMNT interim coach Sarachan.
Pareja leaving was tough for the entire team, but especially for Cannon, who compared his former coach to family. Pareja gave Cannon his shot in the starting lineup, and put him in a position to succeed by not throwing him into the fire of the 2017 season.
“He did a lot for me. He was family,” Cannon said. “He taught me so much when I came up, and my confidence — he’s the one who gave me the confidence. He was the one who believed in me and picked me over a handful of guys. It was really tough seeing someone like that leave, but I wish Oscar nothing but the best. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for yourself, and Oscar made that decision. I think he did so much for me and it’s impossible to put into words. I’m just grateful I had a coach who could do that for me.”
But if there’s one player who knows new FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez, it’s Cannon.
Cannon played under Gonzalez during his days in the academy and was on hand for Gonzalez’s introductory press conference. Cannon expects the team to play more possession-based football and to have number superiority on the pitch, something emphasized by Gonzalez.
“He’s a more tactical coach than you’d believe,” Cannon said. “He’s huge on tactics. He’s gonna make us play this year. I really believe Luchi is going to bring in a style of play that maybe we’ve been lacking the past couple of years. He’s a very good coach for the job.
“I’ve known him since I was in the academy. He was a coach who would always like having the ball and loved to play. It’s gonna be interesting seeing how he’s going to adapt from academy to full-grown men, but I have no doubt in my mind that Luchi is going to make that jump.”