The coronavirus crisis may have shut down MLS and much of human life across the planet, but Reggie Cannon remains a man in a hurry to get things done.
This spring the FC Dallas fullback has seen the global pandemic complicate both his marriage plans and his ambitions of a transfer to one of Europe’s top leagues. He and his partner Kendall recently elected to shift their wedding — the primary event with family and friends — from June to January, and formally tie the knot in a smaller ceremony, where they abided by social distancing practices, on April 18.
Even though their loved ones couldn’t attend, they still found a way to congratulate the lucky couple:
“So the bigger celebration is going to be in January, but we felt it was divine timing from God, telling us that this was the right time to get married,” he explained in a recent conversation with MLSsoccer.com. “I couldn't be happier right now.”
Cannon had also expected to be closing the deal on a move overseas in this summer’s transfer window. After two years as a regular starter in MLS, he’s eager to test himself with a new challenge. A role with the US Olympic team at the Summer Games in Tokyo might’ve provided a prominent platform for him to show himself, but that part — including the qualification process, no sure thing itself — will have to wait.
The uncertain status of the world transfer market injects further doubt into Cannon’s future, with some predicting its collapse in the face of this unprecedented crisis. Still, he’s ready to go, and says the new contract he signed with FCD in March does nothing to change or limit that.
“This summer was a huge opportunity for me to go,” he said. “The contract was structured in a way where hopefully I would have gotten transferred this summer, which is not a loss yet, we don't know. But that contract gave me a lot of security with what’s to come.”
Cannon has been linked to a variety of potential buyers over the past year or so, and while he says he doesn’t have his heart set on any particular destination, he’s got the experiences of two of his US men’s national team colleagues — and direct competitors for international minutes – in mind.
“I love being at [USMNT] camp with players like Sergino [Dest] and [DeAndre] Yedlin, just motivating me to get to that next level. Seeing players like that just makes me happy,” Cannon explained. “I love being in camp with players that have different paths than me, different drives. It's nice seeing that, because it motivates me to be better, and motivates me to make them better. I love that friendly competition because I want the US to be great one day.”
It’s a testament to the mentality of ambitious players, and the intensity required at the game’s highest levels, that such teammates can simultaneously be both role models and targets in the crosshairs.
“Yedlin, he’s been in the Prem, he’s been places that American fullbacks would strive to go, would kill for. It's amazing. I love players like that — Yedlin is such an inspiration to me,” said Cannon of the Seattle Sounders academy product.
“I’m trying to be one of the best right backs in the world one day,” he said. “That's been my dream since I was little. And I know it’s crazy, this kid from MLS [saying that at age] 21. I don't care. I have dreams, aspirations. Hopefully one day I'll reach them, and I’ll go out swinging if I don’t. It's one of the things I'll always chase until the end of my career. I have that drive.”
Cannon credits his experiences in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy as key to his journey to this point, and was saddened to see the federation abruptly shut down the national youth league last month.
“It’s created platforms for someone like me to get to the next level,” he said. “I felt disappointed in just the way it happened. Ultimately, we don't want to be missing any talent. And we don't want to be letting kids slip through the gaps. We want to build — or at least I would hope that this country would want to build a pipeline that can access all talent.”
Cannon’s road to becoming an FCD Homegrown started when his performances for their local youth rivals Solar SC caught the attention of former Dallas coach Oscar Pareja and his staff, earning him an invite to train with the first team at the tender age of 15. He would soon join FCD’s system and help them win back-to-back DA national championships.
“It taught me how to win,” he recalled. “It felt so good to win trophies. It gave me that hunger, that want to get to the next level and the next level and the next level, because there's always a level above where you are. It gave me that motivation.
“And training with actual professionals,” he added, “playing against Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa, Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo, getting my butt kicked at 15 years old by some of the best players in MLS, that motivated me crazily to get to the next level. That was the real motivation because I knew I was 15 and going 1v1 against Fabian Castillo is very hard at right back, but it was a learning curve … the DA was a huge opportunity to get kids exposure and teach them those lessons.”
Cannon, who turns 22 next month, will aim to balance the present and the future as he waits and hopes for a resumption of MLS play and the continuation of his career’s upward trajectory.
“There's a lot of uncertainty,” he admitted. “But at the end of the day, I want to start in a World Cup. I want one of the best right backs in the world one day. I want to challenge myself. I want to be uncomfortable. So I’m going to try to do everything I can. My focus right now is FC Dallas. I’m just going to try to do the most I can with FC Dallas and be the best I can be.”