VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Many of the players selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft probably held off on packing their bags. However, one player who can start gathering his snow gear is goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
“Having someone like him certainly gives us a player that has proven he’s capable on the field, but also has proven that he’s a leader,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “That’s the kind of player that we’re looking for. That was something that went along with the DeMerit signing, and a guy like Cannon also offers that leadership that I think we need to continue to add to our squad.”
Whitecaps FC brass were very impressed by the veteran’s pedigree and felt that he added a dimension that most other players available in the draft could not.
“We’re excited about Joe. One thing you can’t emulate is a guy who’s been through championships,” said Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations Tom Soehn. “He’s a winner. I’ve scouted him quite a bit and watched him win games for his team by himself.
This will not be Cannon’s first visit to Vancouver. In fact, Lenarduzzi first met him 12 years ago during an A-League playoff matchup between his Vancouver 86ers and Cannon’s San Diego Flash.
“He actually got red carded in [the first leg] so he wasn’t able to play in the return game,” remembered Lenarduzzi. “I stood beside him in San Diego and he could not stop talking about the Southsiders [supporters group] and the atmosphere at Swangard (where the 86ers and D-2 Whitecaps used to play), and the city itself. A long while after the fact he’s now coming here.”
Despite his MLS Cup ring and two Goalkeeper of the Year awards, Cannon will have to battle to earn the starting job in net.
“I don’t like to pick who is my number one,” said Head Coach Teitur Thordason. “I want to have three or four goalkeepers in my roster and the best one is going to play.”
Soehn echoed those sentiments, insisting that Jay Nolly, last year’s USSF-D2 goalkeeper of the year, was very much still in the race.
“No job is given,” insisted Soehn. “We’re excited with what Jay did last year, but we also want to be competitive at every position. We feel like we’ve got two guys who are strong characters that will compete for the job, and I think it’s a real positive.”