Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JOSE M. ROMERO
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — Joe Cannon spent the first few days of Vancouver Whitecaps training camp in Arizona doing some rehabilitation on his left ankle, the one he broke last August while with the San Jose Earthquakes.
He's confident, however, that with the help of the club's physios, he'll be ready to play before the MLS season begins in March. Cannon will have to beat out Jay Nolly to be the Whitecaps' starting goalkeeper, but either way, he'll hold an important leadership role as a veteran.
"For me it's a different game plan altogether, due to the injury," Cannon said after a recent Whitecaps practice. "As far as team stuff, I really haven't tried to wrap my head around dealing with my new teammates and trying to figure out what's going to happen because right now, I'm not healthy 100 percent. The only way I'm going to contribute to this club is if I get there."
It just so happened that Cannon and fellow veterans Jay DeMerit and John Thorrington were all out due to injury recovery when the team got to Arizona. But that hasn't tempered Cannon's enthusiasm to be north of the border.
Cannon was asked for his first reaction when he learned Vancouver had selected him in last November's expansion draft.
"I was grateful. I heard a lot of great things," Cannon said. "I know Vancouver has an incredible following, and I told Tommy Soehn (Whitecaps director of soccer operations) that from given this opportunity, I'm just going to work hard and give everything my best effort and try to repay that as much as I can."
Cannon, who for the past several years was one of the faces of the Bay Area franchise, was no longer in San Jose's plans after Jon Busch took over for him and helped the Earthquakes get to the playoffs last season. Cannon also had a high salary, making him further expendable.
Now Cannon has a new place to play and some jokes to keep things loose with a young team.
"A couple of these guys, it's tough, they can't come to the bar with us," Cannon said with a grin. "It's young (the team), but you know what? That might be a better formula. A lot of these guys still haven't recognized their full potential… the stigma placed on an expansion team kind of weighs it down, but I think these guys are ready to work.
"I think we're probably going to sprinkle this team with a few other additions down the road, but this is our group and we go forward and be soldiers, so let's do this."
Cannon admits he sees being with the Whitecaps as a fresh start, but that it might also turn out to be the place where he ends his long pro career.
"I'll put all my energy into this group of young guys and this staff, and let the chips fall where they may," Cannon said.
Cannon hopes to take part in preseason matches against other teams by mid-February, when the Whitecaps return for a second go-round through Arizona.