Joe Cannon etched his name in Bay Area soccer lore for his brilliance in front of the net.
Now he aims to extend that local legacy from the sideline, as the Burlingame Dragons FC announced on Friday that the former San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper will be their new head coach. The Dragons are entering their second season as the Quakes’ affiliate in the USL’s Premier Developmental League.
“I am honored to represent the city of Burlingame, Burlingame FC, and to be a part of the San Jose Earthquakes’ developmental pipeline,” said Cannon, who will be inducted into the Quakes’ Hall of Fame on April 8 at Avaya Stadium, via press release. “I’m looking forward to working with future professionals of the game and competing in the PDL as we inspire the next generation of soccer stars here in San Mateo County.”
Dragons president Jordan Gardner was unequivocal regarding the move.
“Joe has an impressive resume playing the game at the highest levels and developing top talent across the Bay Area. Credit goes to our ownership, front office, and partnership with the Earthquakes for allowing us to land such a high-quality coach,” Gardner told KNBR.com.
Cannon, whose timely saves complemented Landon Donovan’s playmaking skills in San Jose’s historic run to the 2001 MLS Cup, will now take the helm in the Peninsula.
“I couldn’t be happier for my longtime friend and teammate Joe Cannon,” said Donovan, the U.S. Men’s National Team’s all-time leading goalscorer.” Joe cares deeply about the sport and the community, and will be a tireless leader in his new role to help make the Dragons successful both on and off the field.”
A product of Mountain View’s Saint Francis High School before capturing All-America honors at Santa Clara, Cannon spent seven of his 15 MLS seasons with the Quakes over two separate stints. He was twice named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and made the league’s All-Star Team four times, earning two international caps for the United States in the process.
Since retiring, Cannon has remained involved in the Bay Area soccer scene at the pro and youth levels. In addition to his exploits as a color commentator for the Quakes’ radio broadcasts, he was also the executive director for the Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club.
With Burlingame reaching the PDL’s Western Conference semifinals in each of the past two seasons, Cannon will be tasked with maintaining the Dragons’ winning ways, while ultimately leading them to unchartered postseason waters.
However, that road will be a little tougher in 2017, with defenders Nick Lima (Earthquakes) and Josh Smith (New England Revolution) departing the Peninsula after their impressive outings led to MLS call-ups.
In fact, Lima shocked MLS fans nationwide after Quakes GM Jesse Fioranelli plucked him from the Dragons’ lineup in December and signed him to a homegrown player contract. Not only did the Cal alum crack the starting 11 in time for San Jose’s season opener last month, he was named to the league’s Team of the Week for his sparkling play.
“In a short period of time we’ve had five players selected in the MLS SuperDraft, one homegrown player, and countless others jump to the professional ranks,” Gardner said. “With Joe at the helm, there’s potential to further build off this pipeline and solidify our status as the top development franchise in the U.S.”
The new gaffer will put his discerning eye for talent on display April 9, when the team will hold open tryouts in Burlingame in hopes of supplementing their roster with the season looming.
“I’m grateful to [Dragons owner] Nick [Swinmurn], Jordan, Jesse, and [Quakes technical director] Chris [Leitch] for giving me this opportunity. I’ll be doing my best to apply many of the things I’ve learned in my career, as my staff and I work with such a talented group of young players.”
The Dragons face a treacherous opening week, with PDL road games at Fresno (May 6) and San Francisco (May 13) sandwiching a U.S. Open Cup date against a foe to be determined (May 10).
Once Cannon’s crew navigates that initial storm, they will finally return to Burlingame for their home opener on May 14 in a rematch against Fresno.