The midfield trio that had been with the United States U-20s walked in through the revolving door that has been the FC Dallas locker room the past month, but Reggie Cannon walked out ahead of Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup opener against the OKC Energy.
Cannon has been called into the United States national team as an injury replacement for the Gold Cup. The right back recently was benched by Luchi Gonzalez but has returned to the starting lineup.
The coach said he spoke with Cannon both Monday night and Tuesday morning about the chance he now has with Gregg Berhalter’s United States side and is convinced the 21-year-old will make the most out of his opportunity.
“You have to always be ready. You have to be on your toes. He was on a preliminary roster, but he wasn’t in the plans to be on the final roster. Some things change,” Gonzalez said. “He’s ready. He’s motivated. He didn’t start a few weeks ago, but that was a situation where we decided to go with another player at that position. His attitude was fantastic to support the team and to respond, to be ready and earn the next opportunity. That’s what he did. Now he has this opportunity with the U.S.”
FCD also loaned Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi to Austin’s USL Championship side, a move the coach said was in the works for two weeks.
Atuahene recovered from injury just two weeks ago but made his MLS debut and scored in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. FCD can recall either player at any time.
Pepi power: FC Dallas added 16-year-old Ricardo Pepi to its squad for Wednesday’s match on a short-term loan from its USL League One side North Texas SC, and Gonzalez said he plans to hang the teenager his first FC Dallas start.
“We’re very confident he can take care of business at that position and is going to work to help this team defend well and press, then recover the ball and be a reference and dangerous,” he said. “We can find him around the box and even away from the box. He makes runs, he’s doing a lot of things that are in line with our way. That’s the opportunity he’s earned, and we’re excited to have the experience tomorrow.”
Bryan Reynolds, who is 17, also is in line to get a start, but with so many combined FCD and North Texas training sessions during the year, FCD midfielder Jacori Hayes said it will be easy to integrate the youngsters into the starting lineup.
“Everyone that’s going to be playing has been training with us for the majority of the season. It doesn’t even feel like they’re a new face,” Hayes said. “That’s something that we’ve had to do each game and use a different lineup, new guys have to step up and this one isn’t any different.”
Experience, but not minutes: Paxton Pomykal captained the United States U-20 team, Brandon Servania scored against Ukraine and saw time in four matches, and FCD alumnus Chris Richards played all but 30 minutes of the tournament for the Americans.
Midfielder Edwin Cerrillo was on the squad that fell to Ecuador in the quarterfinals. While Gonzalez said FCD could’ve utilized him, he felt the club made the right choice releasing Cerrillo for the competition.
“Yeah, OK, he could’ve played some minutes with us, absolutely, but he’s got something that’s going to personally develop him,” Gonzalez said. “He’s a part of our U.S. national team history. Our club, our owners and myself we support that. Now he’s back and we’ve got to help with rhythm, fitness, confidence, things like that. That will happen organically for him and his teammates.”
Cerrillo wasn’t involved in the national team picture until breaking out as a starter for FCD this season. While coach Tab Ramos declined to give him any minutes, the Waco native said he loved the experience and is thrilled to say he was on a World Cup squad.
“In the city I come from, not a lot of people make it, and for me to be out there on the world stage like that is incredible,” Cerrillo said. “I know a lot of people say I should’ve stayed, but honestly it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think I made the right decision to go, and that’s going to follow me. Whether I would’ve played or not, I’m happy with the experience I had and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”