By Michael Lewis
Former U.S. international and Cosmos defender Dan Canter has passed away.
He was 58.
Canter died in Las Vegas on April 9, although there was no obituary until Friday evening, on the Penn State University website. His death was not COVID-19 related, according to former teammates. Canter was suffering with some ailments, although they were not specified.
His death was announced by fellow former Penn State University teammate Jerry Moyer on the latter’s Facebook page on Wednesday. Moyer said he was informed of Canter’s passing through a PSU Alumni chain and former teammates and friends of the one-time Nittany Lions’ standout.
Canter’s passing stunned many of his colleagues, who shared their thoughts and emotions on Facebook.
“Amazing player/teammate … gone too soon. R.I.P. Danny,” said Moyer, who played with Canter when the latter captained the team in 1981.
“Great player and a greater person,” one-time Long Island University standout Richard Chinapoo wrote.
“Danny was a great guy,” wrote St. John’s men’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur, who grew up in New Jersey. “Very skilled and poised player. … My condolences to his family and friends … God Bless Him!”
Soccer TV analyst Ray Hudson was a teammate of Canter on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. “Sad news again…we lost an old teamate from our Fort Lauderdale Strikers family; informed this morning that Dan Canter had passed.Dan was a quality footballer & as nice a person as you could ever meet, not a bad bone in him,a great American lad,” he wrote on Twitter. “Deep condolences to Dans family.”
Born in North Plainfield, N.J. on Nov. 16, 1961, Canter grew up in Chatham Township, N.J. He was a standout at PSU from 197881, earning first team All American recognition in his senior season.
Canter’s performance caught the eye of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who selected him in the 1982 North American Soccer League draft. He performed for Team America, an attempt at bringing the best American soccer players together to play as one team, during the 1983 NASL season before joining the Cosmos in 1984. He also competed for the Cosmos’ indoor squad in the 1984-85 Major Indoor Soccer League season before the team folded midway through the campaign.
When the Cosmos obtained Canter, head coach Eddie Firmani was quoted by United Press International about the defender: “In my opinion, he’s the best American defender in soccer. He’s a terrific man-to-man marker, never gets flustered and reads the game very well.”
“Watching the Cosmos has certainly helped me,” Canter was quoted by The New York Times in 1984. “First it was Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer, then I watched the magic of Bogie [Vladislav Bogicevic]. I used to come and watch with the kids on my team from Chatham Township. We all had the same dream. It looks like mine came true.”
The defender also played indoors for the Chicago Sting for the rest of the 1985 season and Minnesota Strikers from 1985-87.
Canter, who made nine appearances for the U.S. national team, made his international debut in a 2-0 victory over Haiti in 1983. He also performed in a scoreless draw with Italy in 1984 and was part of the U.S. Olympic squad for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics that year before he suffered an injury before the tournament.
He was one several players on the U.S. national team who played in the MISL because there was no professional outdoor soccer in the states at the time. Canter was part of the Starting XI in the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in Torrance, Calif. on May 31, 1985, a result that eliminated the Americans from qualifying for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
After the game, FrontRowSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis interviewed Canter as a reporter for Soccer America.
“It’s a disaster,” Canter said of the devastating loss at the time. “To stumble like this, there are no excuses.”
With the Ticos clinging to a one-goal lead in the second half, Canter almost tallied the equalizer.
At 72:20, forward Cosmos forward Ricky Davis directed a free kick from the left of the penalty area to Canter at the top of the box. Canter then ripped a shot that appeared to have gone into the net, which rippled.
Referee John Meachem signaled a goal. Davis took the ball out of the net and walked toward midfield for an apparent Costa Rican kickoff while the visitors protested.
Linesman Robert Allen brought it to the attention of Meachem, and no goal was the ruling. The Americans did not protest.
“It hit the outside part of the net,” Canter said.
But if it was going to be ruled a goal, Canter wasn’t about to complain. “In a game like this, you take what you can get,” he said.