February 13, 2006

Cannon Gives Rapids A Shot In The Arm

Feb. 9, 2006

By Alan Pearce
Rocky Mountain News

Preseason camp for the Colorado Rapids is under way in Westminster and coach Fernando Clavijo is particularly pleased about the return of (former Santa Clara University) goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

"Joe has been in camp from Day No. 1 and he's doing tremendous," Clavijo said Wednesday.

"We're all concerned with (off-season surgery), but he's looking better than I've ever seen him."

Cannon required surgery for a sports hernia, which hampered him late last season, and a minor procedure to clean out cartilage in his right knee.

Of more concern, though, was Cannon, who is in the last year of his contract, supposedly was about to be traded to Kansas City. Such talk has died down and Clavijo is hoping to retain the keeper.

"Hopefully, we have the next couple of weeks or next couple of months (to sign a new deal)," Clavijo said. "I know Joe said he wants to stay. Both parties have to give up a little bit. I think it's going to happen."

The Rapids have a logjam at the goalkeeper spot.

They acquired Matt Jordan on the day of the SuperDraft and backups Byron Foss and Bouna Coundoul return. Colorado will keep a maximum of three.

"We not only have to choose the best three goalkeepers but what fits in our budget," Clavijo said. "I think Matt Jordan might agree to our terms, so it looks as if Byron Foss might be the man out."

Foss played six matches when Cannon was injured, compiling a 3-1-2 record and an impressive 0.94 goals-against average. But Coundoul made some outstanding saves last season during practices and will come at a lower salary.

"We want to hold on to Bouna," Clavijo said. "We believe in Bouna's future."

Clavijo said everyone who is expected in camp has arrived, except newly acquired forward Cornell Glen, who was expected to receive his visa Wednesday and arrive during the weekend. Defender Nat Borchers, expected to sign with Norwegian club Odd Grenland once his transfer goes through, was not in camp.

The Rapids soon will leave for three preseason matches. The first, a 12-day session in Pachuca, Mexico, begins Wednesday. After returning to Westminster, the Rapids will visit Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a three-day stay starting March 8, then will depart for Bilbao, Spain, for a 13-day stay.

The Rapids will begin their Major League Soccer season April 2, on the road against Houston 1836, a franchise that relocated from San Jose, Calif.

Colorado will have a four-match homestand starting April 8 against Columbus but plays only five home games after the All-Star Game. The annual fireworks game is July 4 against New England.

Clavijo expressed dissatisfaction with the schedule, released Wednesday, but is happy about the way camp has started.

"One of the things that I look at right now is the chemistry is tremendous," he said. "We landed in the conference final last year and the competition is better at every position."

The Rapids are looking at two new forwards - Nico Hernandez and Aaron King.

Hernandez, from Argentina, is "kind of" on trial with the team, Clavijo said.

King, who played at Smoky Hill High School and North Carolina State, was acquired by the Rapids late Wednesday. Colorado traded a first-round choice in the 2007 supplemental draft for King, a fourth-round pick by Los Angeles in the SuperDraft this year.