Joe Cannon of the Colorado Rapids was named the 2004 Goalkeeper of the Year on Friday at the MLS Cup Media Luncheon. With the announcement, Cannon snags the top 'keeper award for the second time in his career, the first coming with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2002.
"It's obviously a great honor," Cannon said. "I think it's something you strive for every year. I'm kind of upset that there were no speeches because I wanted to tell my mom I love her and happy birthday.
"Other than that, for me, it's a bittersweet award because I think the best feeling that I have ever had as a soccer player is when we (San Jose) won the Cup. Winning it is more like a positive reinforcement as to how you approach the game, the sacrifices you make during the week by not going out and trying to eat better. It just reinforces that you're moving in the right direction."
Cannon beat out the Columbus Crew's Jon Busch and the Los Angeles Galaxy's Kevin Hartman for the honor. Cannon was also up for the league's MVP award, which MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara received Thursday.
"You know what, for me the MVP was an interesting announcement," Cannon said. "I thought the person who won it (Guevara) had a good year. I thought that Jaime Moreno had a great year and I thought it was an interesting announcement and I'm going to leave it at that."
The Sun Valley, Idaho native played every minute this season for the Rapids (the only goalkeeper in the league to do so), making countless saves to propel his side to a third-place finish in the Western Conference. He recorded 10 wins, but was also responsible for helping Colorado pick up points in 11 draws. Cannon made an amazing 150 saves during the regular season, registering an 80.2 saves percentage. His 10 clean sheets was tied for best in MLS, while his 1.07 goals against average registered third, though the two men above him -- Nick Rimando of D.C. United (1.00) and Tony Meola of the Kansas City Wizards (1.05) -- both played many fewer matches than did Cannon.
Cannon almost single-handedly thrust Colorado into the MLS Cup Playoffs, as his team struggled offensively throughout the 2004 campaign. The Rapids only managed 29 goals in 30 matches, an all-time league low, but with a strong defense anchored by the 29-year-old shotstopper, they were able to secure 41 points, eight back from the Western Conference leading Kansas City Wizards and just two points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy, who they would meet in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Cannon returned to MLS in 2002 after a stint overseas and was controversially chosen by recently relieved manager Tim Hankinson to start in the playoffs, though Scott Garlick had been the choice during the regular season. But there would be no controversy in 2004, though, as Cannon proved that he is the best goalkeeper in MLS.
"We had a good year, but I think we could still do better," Cannon said. "I think that is what has to be our focus. I'd love to sit here and say that this honor is incredible and I am completely satisfied, but I am not. I want to win this thing (MLS Cup) every year, just like everyone else does, and make my mark. Hopefully next year I'll be holding the cup rather than this trophy and that will make me a little happier."
The two runners-up for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, Busch and Hartman, both also had fine seasons in the nets. Busch was instrumental in the Crew's record-setting 18-game unbeaten streak to close out the regular season, which also captured the first Supporters' Shield for the club in their nine-year history. Veteran Hartman was his usual solid self in 2004, as the Galaxy maintained their record of having qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in each year of the club's existence.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.