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Kenny Cooper? Kenny Cooper, anyone?

Dec 3, 2012, 12:02 PM EST

Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

Question: Which Major League Soccer team would like to take on an 18-goal scorer? Answer: Pretty much any of them.

Which is why this developing situation with Red Bulls striker Kenny Cooper is curious and interesting all at once. Soccer By Ives, which has been on top of the early blitz of Red Bull off-season movement, is reporting that RBNY management is aggressively shopping Cooper, and that the line forms to the left. Seems it’s going to be a pretty long queue, too.

It’s about today’s reported acquisition of Fabian Espindola, adding speed alongside Thierry Henry (who is a lot of things, of course, but does miss some pace.)

As we talked about earlier, Cooper or Sebastien Le Toux would have to go, and it looks like the former FC Dallas and Portland Timbers striker is odd man out. Fair enough, but there’s this: the big fellow did score 18 goals last year!

True enough that his role alongside Henry, shrewd and gifted, had a lot to do with Cooper’s 18-goal season. Still, it was an 18-goal season!

Want to know how many guys have had 18-goal seasons since 2007? Three. And look who they are:

Chris Wondolowski, Landon Donovan and Cooper. That’s a fairly impressive assembly. By the way, Cooper has had two of those 18-goals season during that time.

Cooper has deficiencies in his game; the glitches have been discussed to death through the years. But at some point it’s all about bottom-line production for a striker. And on that regard, he has absolutely passed the test.

So it’s hardly surprising that plenty of teams would be happy to take on the affable Cooper, as pleasant a person as anyone will ever know. That is to say, off-field chemistry or locker room issues are the last thing anyone worries about with Cooper.

  1. whordy - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Literally a match made in heaven for the Union. Him and Jack would perfectly compliment each other.

    • mvktr2 - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      I was thinking similarly. However the deficiencies mentioned above are exactly what Philly needs to pair with JackMc, a strong hold the ball up center forward. Cooper is big but plays like a smaller player.

      Perhaps Philly could get him and send him to San Jose for Alan Gordon and some allocation money. With Klinsmann interested this would get Gordon 1st team time, replace his production for SJ, and perhaps satisfy all involved.

      Philly needs a target forward, help along the backline, a playmaker, depth, and experience; the young core is solid and talented. Just addressing a few of those areas along with a cohesive effort will probably make Philly a playoff participant.

  2. tylerbetts - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    I know fans of just about EVERY MLS team can say things like this, but man would Cooper look good getting service from Higuain.

    Truth be told, though, the best fit might be SKC. if they had just a little better finishing, they’d have hoisted the Cup. And, hey, look at that … Cooper can finish with the best of them.

    • wfjackson3 - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      I was just about to say something to this effect. I still like Sapong plenty, but Cooper has the best of both Bunbury and Sapong in one package. I think he could see lots of success up top of the SKC 4-3-3 and he has the workrate that our system requires.

  3. wesbadia - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    What Cooper has proven to need to be successful is quality service from everyone else on the pitch. In Dallas, he got that from an assortment of players: Dax McCarty, Juan Toja, Marcelo Saragosa, and, towards the end of the season, Atiba Harris. No one of this quality sans Jack Jewsbury was providing service to Cooper in Portland. There was no real play-maker, and every other midfield and forward option was non-creative filler.

    NY was a different story. You hook him up again with McCarty, then add in Lindpere, Henry, and at times Marquez, and suddenly you see how Cooper’s quality sky-rockets.

    Moral of the story: wherever Cooper lands, that team had BETTER have the caliber of players needed to provide service to the big man. I really doubt Philly would be that team based off their current roster. Unless they’re looking at adding more midfield support, I don’t think a target striker like Cooper fits in. And, with SKC’s midfield in flux with Cesar and Espinoza out, I’m not convinced they could service Cooper properly, although it’s not a bad option.

    I don’t think Cooper will be good for a rebuilding team like TFC or Columbus, but I could see him at a more established squad like LA or Seattle. I doubt either of those teams would pick him up, but he’d fit in well there.

    • Steve Davis - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      All good comments (as usual from you … cheers), but I do wonder if you can say that about almost every striker? The exception, perhaps, is the rarer type who can create his own shot. Otherwise, tis true that most strikers are only as good as the service around him.

      • wesbadia - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        To me, there are three types of strikers in existence in this worlds. 1) the target type (like Cooper) who absolutely needs to rely on service from everywhere on the field in order to be both effective and successful; 2) the “lone wolf” type (like Di Vaio or maybe a Blas Perez) that can exist all by themselves and can not only poach what’s in front of them, but create plays to help themselves score; and 3) the tandem forwards that work best in partnerships with each other (ie, 2010 Casey/Cummings, etc) where they can feed off the other’s quality and attacking presence despite not having high quality service from behind them.

        Granted, I think service of some sort plays an integral in any striker’s tenure with any club, but there are certain players that can exist more by themselves than others. There’s a reason Cooper wouldn’t fit in RSL or Colorado (et al): their styles of play are not about service, per se, but either possession and built-up attack with a variety of roles, or isolated strike units working together to break down defenses.

        This is just my take, obviously, and I definitely don’t discount anyone else’s opinions on the matter. If I were coaching Philly or TFC or Columbus, I think I’d stay away from Cooper because of his track record.

        Anyhow, I truly appreciate the compliments from you, Steve. I’m flattered when you do. I may not agree with you on all your opinions, but I respect the experience you’ve had over the years. So, coming from you, the compliments are well-taken :-)

    • wfjackson3 - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Agreed on the SKC front, but it’s not like service will be a problem with Kemara and Zusi still around. (Not sure on Convey’s status). Granted, having a strong plan for the midfield should be SKC’s top offseason goal, but if they think that highly of Rossell and Peterson, maybe Cooper makes sense.

      • wesbadia - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        I don’t disagree with SKC, I’m just saying that do you want to take the chances with Cooper when you’re rebuilding the midfield that will service him? I’d rather see him go to a club that has a proven midfield that’s capable of servicing their strikers with no hiccups.

    • tylerbetts - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      Not sure I’d be so quick to classify Columbus as “rebuilding” As you’ve stated very well, the thing Cooper needs best is someone to deliver him the ball with quality service. I think the man just named MLS Newcomer of the Year can provide just that service. Not to mention other quality in the midfield, like a good linker in Dilly Duka and a great glue man in Eddie Gaven. Plus, as you’ve also mentioned, Cooper works well with another forward to play off of. Have you seen Jairo Arietta? I know you have.

      Of course, all of this is a fairly moot point as a) Columbus is almost never into the Kenny Cooper type of player and b) Columbus is going need to focus their attention on the backline with changes this offseason.

      But Columbus was just edged out of the Tournament by the MLS Cup runner-up. And had more points than a tournament participant. So “rebuilding” is a little harsh.

      • wesbadia - Dec 4, 2012 at 8:46 AM

        Sorry for being unclear. My definition for “rebuilding” here is the overhaul of vital on-field personnel. As in first team. By this definition, a LOT of clubs are rebuilding. RSL, Toronto, Colorado, New England, New York… Columbus. C-bus has declined options on 10 players thus far. Granted, they could re-sign them before Thursday, or if those players get through the Re-Entry Draft. But the point is that they’re looking to do some substantial house cleaning. That’s what I’m terming “rebuilding”.

        And, like I said, I have a tough time trusting that a rebuilding team with a roster in flux (like SKC’s midfield which would provide the service to Cooper) would be the best option for him.

        I convinced myself that Columbus, despite having an awesome playmaker in Higuain, might not be a good fit precisely for the reason that Arietta is that go-to striker. He’s the lone wolf, as is evidenced by the formation used when both he and Renteria are on the pitch. The latter tends to take a more reserved striker role, letting Arietta roam up the field getting service from Higuain. Would Cooper work well with Arietta? How would their styles mesh? They’re kind of the same player in that they work well with service, but Arietta seems to do better by himself with no one to play off of. It’d be a different situation than what Cooper had in NY.

        Who knows, though? That combo could work wonders. As a tactical geek, I’d love to see how it’d function on the field. But if I were a manager for the Crew, I don’t think I’d take that gamble.

      • tylerbetts - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Ah! Makes sense. Thanks for the well thought out response!

  4. arjanroghanchi - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    the man lines up to take PKs from behind the arc….

  5. danielofthedale - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    How about a team like DC United. You put in up top instead of Pajoy with the likes of Pontius, DeLeon, DeRo, Najar, and Co. providing service to him and I think that could have gotten DC over the hump and past Houston to MLS Cup.

    • wesbadia - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      I think Cooper works best with another person at forward to work off of. Let’s remember that he had contributed to many of Henry’s goals this season, too. So, to maximize his total output, I’d say running two strikers would work best. Pajoy is definitely not lone wolf material, and maybe having Cooper up there to work off of would make Pajoy better. I think Najar will be a starter at RB, not midfield, so that’ll open up spots on the field to run two strikers and a full midfield complement. I kind of like that idea.

  6. dorfdepp13 - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Um, Dallas anyone? He’s from there, he can play with Blas Perez and get serviced from DF10, and Dallas is looking for depth up top. I assume the only reason it ended the first time was sdo he could pursue the BL2 opportunity– would it be a fit?

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