If there was an award for “Most Loquacious Quake,” Joe Cannon would be the all-time trophy winner.
So when San Jose’s starting goalkeeper declined media entreaties immediately following the team’s acquisition of Jon Busch, the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, plenty of folks assumed Cannon had gone silent out of anger with the move.
Not so, Cannon told MLSsoccer.com. He was merely angry over the way the Quakes opened the season, with a 3-0 defeat to visiting Real Salt Lake.
“I was disappointed in the loss,” Cannon said. “I think it was just a week to shut up and work. I still think that, but I’m not trying to avoid anyone anymore.”
If Cannon was also trying to steer clear of controversy, it might have been a decision made from personal experience. When he returned in the middle of the 2003 MLS season from a stint in France’s top league, Cannon was cast on the opposite side of a new-vs.-old keeper battle in Colorado.
Scott Garlick, then the Rapids’ incumbent in goal, responded to the team’s interest in Cannon by famously telling The Denver Post, “I don’t care whether they bring in Joe Cannon or Jeff Bazooka or Jim Tommygun ... I don't need anyone to push me. I know what I can do in this league.”
Upon his arrival, Cannon responded in kind, via the Post: “I don’t care if it’s Scott Garlick, Scott Salt or Scott Pepper. I'm very confident in my abilities. I can compete for the job anywhere, and may the best man win. It's going to be fun.”
In this instance, both Cannon and Busch have been careful to avoid saying anything untoward about the other, instead playing up the party line of harmony.
Cannon has remained the Earthquakes’ No. 1 keeper, and both general manager John Doyle and coach Frank Yallop said they only made the move because Busch was available at such a minimal salary-cap cost.
“With Jon coming in, I think sometimes, these things can work two ways, and just the way he is makes it a positive situation,” Cannon said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s an experienced veteran and he’s a guy that’s reliable. He’s a good pro. So I think in that sense, it’s good to have him around.”
The nearest Cannon came to criticizing the signing was to describe it as “an interesting move.”
As for the idea that Busch’s presence will make him work harder, Cannon thinks it may do more in the way of focusing his efforts only on things he can control.
“One of my biggest flaws in my game is the mental part, in the sense that I worry a lot of times about things other than goalkeeping, because I care so much about the team,” Cannon said. “Sometimes it can almost work to the detriment, because I’ll focus on things that really aren’t under my realm. For me, it’s important to just keep working hard. . . .
“I think we have a playoff team here. I think we have a group of guys that collectively don’t understand how good they are yet. And it’s difficult to watch, because we are a good team. For me, as an older guy, you almost want to shake them all and say, ‘Listen, you guys are great players.’ But I think it comes from experience and time, and I’m just looking to go into battle with these guys.”
The Quakes return to action on the road Saturday against the Fire at Toyota Park.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.