Reggie Cannon may only be 22-years-old, but the defender has grown into an experienced option for the U.S. Men’s National Team and will get his latest opportunity to impress on Monday.
Since being the final roster addition ahead of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, Cannon has developed into a consistent performer for Gregg Berhalter’s side. The former FC Dallas Homegrown product has since taken his talents abroad to Portuguese side Boavista, quickly snatching the starting right back job in the top flight. After making the move abroad, Cannon has joined an ever-growing list of USMNT players who are excelling in Europe this season.
“He seems a bit more comfortable now and what he’s doing is having to grind and compete every single game,” Berhalter said Sunday. “It’s been fun to see the transformation, not that he wasn’t at Dallas, but the pressure is certainly different overseas. You can see how he’s experiencing that so far and he’s embracing it. We’re really looking forward to seeing him play and he’s going to start the game tomorrow.”
“I’m very excited to get back into the National Team pool,” Cannon said. “It’s definitely been a long time since January and the player pool has evolved immensely over the course of the past eight months. Obviously we had some guys made their debuts the last game which is exciting because this pool is a lot more diverse now and very talented with a lot of players playing for for the biggest clubs in the world. We’re looking forward to the challenge tomorrow and a lot going on next year.”
Cannon has made a smooth transition to Portuguese side Boavista since leaving MLS for Portugal last summer. A regular in Berhalter’s setup since his breakthrough performance at the 2019 Gold Cup, Cannon calls the move to Portugal one a beneficial one that has helped him continue his improvement as a player.
“The competition I face in the Portuguese league is some of the toughest competition I faced since God knows when,” Cannon said. “And that’s no slight to MLS but the level is just higher. I know it’s outside of the top five leagues in Europe but playing there has challenged me so much. It’s exactly what I wanted from this move, it’s forcing me to become a better player and find new ways to adapt and raise my game.”
After being linked to a move away from FC Dallas last season, Cannon officially made the move to Portugal in the summer and since has been joined by former Houston Dynamo winger Alberth Elis. Cannon worked with several young talents in MLS including Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, and Brian Reynolds, all who remain on the radar of European clubs.
Now that he has been given the chance to play in a European league, Cannon has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Not only is he earning consistent minutes, he is going up against top clubs like FC Porto, Benfica, and Sporting Lisbon, a test he wanted to achieve someday in his career.
“I’ve always said this about wanting to play someday in Europe and that’s been my goal for the longest time,” Cannon said. “I’ve always given his advice to former teammates Paxton [Pomykal], Brian [Reynolds] and others about testing yourself overseas and it’s so amazing to see the competition level over here. This European lifestyle is completely different than what MLS offers and again that’s no slight to MLS, but for these young players that should be your goal to ultimately test yourself.”
“Yeah definitely, one thing I wanted to do was test myself because you can become so comfortable in MLS but I think the great players test themselves in different environments. I’m not saying you can’t play in MLS and play in World Cups and all because you can, but I think for this player pool its very exciting because a lot of us are in Europe and trying new things out and I think it’s a higher level which could help us all in the long run.”
Monday will mark Cannon’s first start since a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in February and overall the first of many that could come in what will be a busy 2021 year. With the USMNT kicking off World Cup Qualifying next year and also being involved in two additional competitions, Cannon’s goals on the international level are plain and simple.
“Our first goal is to offer for the World Cup, our goal is to win trophies, thats the biggest and we have to put our biggest effort out there,” Cannon said. “No matter how tired we may be or how frustrated at times things can get, we need to be focused on our goals and reaching them in the end. Everyone around here is fighting for one another, it’s like a family, and again that is what will make this team great.”