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Whether it's making acrobatic saves on the field, or friending thousands of people on Facebook off the field, Joe Cannon likes to go all out in everything he does.
The 34-year old is easily one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer and has no plans of slowing down. He still thinks about a future with the U.S. national team and is also glad to be back in San Jose, where he plans to end his career, an ending he doesn't see coming for at least three or four more years. Things are going pretty well for a player who boasts an MLS title (2001) and two MLS Goalkeeper of the Year awards (2002 and 2004) to his credit.
In the second installment of Cannon's edition of The SBI Questions, Cannon discusses, among other things, whether his full head of hair cost him national team chances, his Canadian roots, what his favorite bands are and the controversial handling of his contract situation by San Jose this past off-season.
Here are the rest of Joe Cannon's answer:
ULTRA PEANUT– Do you think if you had less hair, you'd get more time with the national team?
– Oh, for sure. I would have at least 20 caps if I had shaved my head by now (laughs). That’s a great question, and it’s kind of scary to note. Maybe it’s the position and the stress. The only guy to really buck the trend is Tony Meola.
Give me some time. I feel like this year I’ll come into my own and with the stress of the new team maybe I can lose a few hairs and really get back on the scene over there. I talk to my roommate about (shaving my head) all the time. One of these days I’m going to shave it for effect. I just don’t think the tall, dark and handsome look is not really a good thing for me so maybe I need to change it up.
I would trade all my hair to have some caps so maybe I will.
– Hey Joe. I read that your father is Canadian. Do you have any relatives who get to/will get to see your visits to Toronto or Vancouver?
– My grandfather was born in Quebec and he brought his family down to Providence, and that’s where I think my father was born. I found that I could have played for the Canadian national team if I would have found out a little bit earlier in my career.
I’m pretty proud of being a French Canadian, although I don’t really do anything for them. My dad has tons of friends everywhere, but not really family.
– From Cameron Rast at Santa Clara University to Kinear to Yallop in MLS, you've played for many great coaches? What are the qualities that make those coaches so successful?
– There’s a handful of things. Not all great coaches have these things, but they have a handful of them. There’s the recognition of talent. The development of players, the tactical coach that’s more hands on with Xs and Os like a Juan Carlos Osorio or Sigi Schmid. You have the coach who’s more concerned with the bigger ends of the game. I feel like Frank is a coach who lets players be themselves, playing in a system he sets up. Motivation is another thing. Some coaches are great motivators. I think there are two or three of those qualities that every great coach must have. In MLS you probably need even more.
– What back four would you dream to play behind? (no sexual innuendo intended) Come to DC!!
– You look at the Italian defense, and when Maldini was back there and Cannavaro. A guy like Roberto Carlos was someone who was good. Dani Alves is someone I like. I like our guys for San Jose, like Jason Hernandez and Nick Garcia. Equally as important as the back-line is having a good defensive midfielder in front of them.
(Nemanja) Vidic would be in there, (Rio) Ferdinand also. They’re in the best league in the world, posting 13 shutouts, so you can’t do much better than that.
– Was there ever any bitterness with the way the Quakes handled your contract situation this offseason? Keep up the good work.
– I definitely think they could have handled it better, but as far as bitterness goes, that’s all gone. There were some things I was not happy about, but at the end of the day I’m playing right now. To be honest some days I go to practice and feel like I don’t deserve a cent. It’s definitely a touchy subject because you have to interact with these people on a professional level every day, but I definitely think they could have handled it better. At the same time, I don’t think there are any lingering effects from it.
– My question is: If you could go back, what team or teams do you wish you could have played for? Or are you completely happy with the path your career has taken?
– The only thing like that that I’ve ever really thought about is if I hadn’t tried to go to Europe, and had stayed at San Jose and gone to Houston, then maybe I could quite possibly have had three or four MLS titles. Saying that though, it kind of discredits what Pat (Onstad) did for the team so it’s not that simple.
I don’t really look back because when I was in San Jose I think a lot of people really felt I was a good goalie but it wasn’t until I went to Colorado that people started to take notice that I could play without guys like (Jeff Agoos), Troy (Dayak), Landon (Donovan), Ronnie (Ekelund) and Richard Mulrooney in front of me. I think everything has worked out pretty good.
Besides the whole LA debacle I think I don’t have any regrets, and I don’t even regret going to LA. I just regret not really contributing anything to that organization. I thought if we had won SuperLiga I could have felt good about contributing a title to the franchise. In Colorado we had a good run and did well with the players we had. We actually hosted a game to go to MLS Cup. We played to our potential there.
Here in San Jose now, that’s where I wanted to end my career since I’ve been in the league. I’m looking forward to not only helping out on the field, but also off the field in trying to promote the game in the community and give back to the place I grew up. Things have worked out pretty well but I think we have to win something for it to turn out like a storybook ending.
– Do you have any idea how much longer you plan to play? And how do you think you will know when it is time to retire? Do you just set an arbitrary age? Or do you sit down and talk with your family every season? Or what?
– Sometimes I wake up in pre-season and feel like I can’t do this for maybe more than three or four more years, and then other days when I look around the league and see who is doing what, I feel like I could do this for eight or nine more years.
The time to go will be when you feel like you’re playing off your name rather than what you’re actually doing for the team. I think I’m pretty self-conscious about that stuff. I’m pretty realistic when I look at that stuff. You have to understand that goalkeeper is a position that if you can do things intelligently then you don’t have to do a lot of the other things.
I’m not really going to question it until I’m about 37 or 38 before I really start looking at each individual year as its own. I love the camaraderie, and everybody tells you the same thing, that when you’re out of it you miss it. I have two big fears, regretting that I went out too early, and not knowing what else to do when I’m done.
Right now I still have aspirations to get to the highest level in this country. I think my game is coming into where I want it to be on most days. We’re going to have to do well as a team here in San Jose if there’s going to be any individual recognition for anyone, including me. I’m not thinking about retiring. I’m going to go after all the all-time (MLS) marks so when I retire they’ll have something good to say about me.
I’ll know it’s time to go when the team signs a number there that says, “Landon who?” Even now, there are guys in the league who haven’t heard of Richard Mulrooney and Jeff Agoos.
– Just curious, what is your favorite band and what is your favorite activity outside of soccer?
– Right now my favorite band is Rancid, a good friend of mine and a season ticket holder of the team is with the group. They’re coming out with a new album. Saying that, I also like The Killers. Another old school band you can put down is Erasure, an 80s synth-pop band. I just loved their music and if anybody wants to give me crap for that, please be a man, that would be sweet.
Outside of soccer, it’s promoting my business, Cannon Soccer, and raising money through clinics, camps and coaching, for these autistic kids I work with. Their organization is called Independent Peer Socialization Training Program. I’m also trying to establish the brand Cannon Soccer, which is promoting the game in Northern California and the Bay Area. Of course there’s Facebook too, and I’m on there all the time.