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Cannon Is Missed In LA

As the LA Galaxy continue to slide despite a new coach at the helm (Bruce Arena), despite the addition of another keeper on loan (Josh Saunders), and despite even starting Landon Donovan against the Kansas City Wizards when most of the other teams in the league rested their international players, at least part of the game. It ’s becoming even more clear that the Galaxy’s downfall falls in large part due to the loss of keeper Joe Cannon.

And this is not an out and out bashing of Josh Wicks or Steve Cronin – the two current LA keepers now in rotation. It’s not of course entirely their fault. In the swirl of media attention that was and is the Beckham Galaxy machine, you just need a keeper who's been through big games and plays with an experienced intensity. The team needs a keeper who will make the at times unorthodox game winning save. And a keeper is called to make that save in every game.

I went to the Earthquakes versus Houston game on Saturday in Santa Clara and saw live some of Cannon’s brilliance and tenacity. Repeatedly Houston swung low balls in across the goalmouth but Cannon was always there. He didn’t shirk from his role, or from fear, rather he seemed to thrive off it. Time and time again the ball was somehow kept out of the back of the net.

I also watched how he bowed in appreciation at the supporters who stand throughout the game behind his goal when he first came on to the field at the start of the game. He bowed not once but at least three times out of respect for their support. Even going down to his knees to bow and acknowledge their presence behind him in the first half. It was very cool to see and the fans loved it. Cannon is a live wire of energy and has a hunger to win. Which is the attitude LA desperately needs now.

Sure, LA needs to shore up their defense, which even the axing of Abel Xavier couldn’t do - as though it was all his fault. They then missed out on grabbing a defender, Corey Gibbs, when they went with Eddie Lewis instead. And they’ve had to deal with injuries to Ante Jazic and the less than sharp play of Greg Vanney. Overall though, the tip top mistake they’ve made in trying to create the elite MLS team is thinking they could get by with out a solid keeper, and letting Joe Cannon go to San Jose.

If there’s a complaint against Cannon it’s that he’s too loud, too animated, wants too much, but I think he’s earned that. He’s won trophies and that energy is often the reason why he's a good keeper. They’re supposed to be loud and annoying, and more so if a goal is scored on them. If he lacks one attribute it could be his distribution, specifically his goal kicks and punts. I was surprised to see him miss his targets with both goal kicks and punts. But this is something a team can deal with. Whereas, if their keeper is letting in goals, they have no chance.

Part of the reason LA got rid of Cannon was his $200,000 per year salary. With Beckham and Donovan already taking a big chunk of the salary cap they needed more room to go out and get other players. What a mistake that was. And now they’re paying for it as they endure another losing streak and could even miss the playoffs again. Poor LA.


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