TReggie Cannon does not hesitate to consider whether his vision of the United States has changed since he moved to Europe. “One hundred million percent,” explains the American full back from his home in Porto. “Looking at the insurrection, Texas freezes right now… explaining to my teammates what is happening in the country puzzles me. In explaining the America I’ve lived in to those who don’t live in America, it feels like I’m describing medieval times. “
On and off the court, however, there is growing cause for optimism for the 22-year-old defender who traded MLS for Boavista last summer. Cannon has impressed in the showcase that is the Portuguese league, already attracting interest from the Bundesliga, La Liga and Premier League, all while the choice of Joe Biden at least symbolically ended four tumultuous years in his homeland.
But Cannon is not the first member of his family to distinguish himself in his chosen field. Cannon’s grandfather, Warren M Washington, is a highly regarded scientist in the field of climate change. In 2010, Barack Obama named Cannon’s grandfather as one of 10 eminent researchers to receive the National Medal of Science.
“Growing up, I didn’t even know what my grandfather had done for my country, for science. He has done an incredible amount of work. Even now, where people still reject climate change in America, I look at the work my grandfather has done to scientifically demonstrate that much of it exists and is a looming threat; It is truly amazing to see the pioneering work that he has done, especially as an African American in his time.
“He has broken many limits and has given my career a lot of motivation and that is why people cannot push me down because he had to go through everything to get to the level he is at; shake hands with Obama; to win that medal; to show that scientists are wrong that an African American can do that. He played a critical role in preparing many paths for people. I have the greatest respect for him, he has given me a lot of motivation. His work on climate change really speaks to me now, especially when we see people denying climate change. It is incredibly important. “
Although Boavista has struggled this season, despite an early win over Benfica, Cannon has been one of the standout players. His plan was always to come to Europe, although doing so during a pandemic meant leaving his family and dog without warning. It was the step forward for MLS that he says he needed to achieve his goal of becoming one of the best right-backs in the world. Cannon has already experienced two styles of training, as 37-year-old Vasco Seabra was replaced by Jesualdo Ferreira, a man twice his predecessor’s age, mid-season. Playing alongside experienced players such as Javi García and Adil Rami is another crucial point in his education, as he seeks to reach the levels reached by his peers.
“The new coach challenges me a lot to do the right thing and to do things that make me uncomfortable, which is something I want to get out of my game. It is players like Javi and Adil, who have done so much in football, who have experienced so much and have been in the biggest clubs in the world, who are really helping me improve my game. Rami is a good friend of mine and he has helped me adjust to Portugal, he winks at me and really believes that I can really reach the highest level of football that he played. I can feel it and he feels my faith. “
Cannon’s rapid progression at Boavista is undeniable and should be a boon for the USA team. The UCLA alumnus already has 13 caps at age 22, becoming an integral part of a team with great ambitions thanks to the quality that Gregg Berthalter has at his disposal. The likes of Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna and Yunus Musah are poised to give the United States their first chance to compete for a World Cup, when they host the tournament alongside Canada and Mexico in 2026.
“I think this team can win a lot of trophies. The World Cup is the ultimate goal, but first we are focused on the Nations League and the friendlies to come. I think that with the talent that this group has and the depth that we are getting in each position, I think this team can have a deep run in the next World Cup.
“I see a lot of people saying that 2026 is going to be the great opportunity for the United States considering where it is and everyone has the opportunity to develop in the biggest clubs, I believe that, but our focus is on the next World Cup, making sure we qualify and we get those experiences under the belt. I think it’s going to be huge. This team has a lot of quality, they play for some of the biggest clubs in the world and they have a great impact. It just motivates a lot of the young people to keep going. “
Off the field, Cannon has voiced his support for racial equality, but was booed and thrown by his own fans before an FC Dallas game last year when he got down on one knee. Subsequently, he described the behavior of the fans as “embarrassing”. The club I tried to make him apologize, even preparing a statement for you to share on social media. Cannon stood his ground and turned down his club’s request. Cannon would continue to receive death threats for his actions. He left early to fulfill his dreams away from Texas, where he had passed through the Dallas academy, with his treatment leaving a bitter taste.
“It’s such a polarizing topic when you get down to business, but we knew we had to do something to start the conversation and that was the perfect opportunity to do it. The people were against violent protests, they were against peaceful protest but they were not against any of that, they were against us speaking, speaking out to point out the injustices that my people are facing and have been facing. for longer.
“This whole situation with Dallas was handled terribly and there were repercussions, but my career was not affected by that and I can get to the next level on time. Unfortunately, my security in the United States was compromised, and that’s the risk you take in pointing out injustices because people will disagree. Threatening to kill your family, threatening to show up at your house, threatening to do vulgar things to you, I can’t say that. Unfortunately, it is part of the society that America is today, especially when Trump was in charge. Now we’ve gotten over that. “
The challenge for the rest of the United States is to recover from Trump’s reign. Cannon and his fellow national team members could be a sports team at the forefront of a country that requires unification. “I don’t think a single man can repair the damage done, I’m talking about the racial tension in this country, which is a huge problem that people refuse to admit.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism