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Kenny Cooper

Kenny Cooper Comes Home to MLS

Welcome back Kenny!

The past few weeks U.S. soccer fans have bemoaned the loss of national team players like Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley, players who, while not top-notch international players, are U.S. nationals whose presence gave MLS some respectability internationally.  However, while we on this site and others were complaining about the losses, we have not had a chance to celebrate a major pick-up for the American league.  Former FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper is leaving Bundesliga 2 and signing with the Portland Timbers.

For newcomers to MLS, Cooper was named a 2008 Best XI and finished second in the Golden Boot race that year, notching 18 goals (fourteen of which either tied a game or gave FC Dallas a lead).  Cooper is a second generation American soccer player and was in the Manchester United youth development system until he was released to pursue his MLS career in 2006.  After three years in Dallas he went overseas to Munich 1860 for two years and scored three goals in fifteen matches. 

The Kenny Cooper story is also an important one for prospective U.S. internationals.  Once considered a replacement to Brian McBride at forward for the U.S. men’s national team, he scored the game-winning goal in a 2009 CONCACAF match against Panama and has ten caps overall, scoring four goals.  However, his last call-up was in 2009 and he has not played under Bob Bradley since he moved to Europe, due mostly to injuries and distance from MLS.

Personally, a move to MLS looks to be a chance to reinvigorate his career in the place where he had his greatest success.  Admittedly, injury plagued his German career but he seems at this point to fit best into MLS.  And he could not have landed in a better place – Portland recently draft Darlington Nagbe and also have USSF 2 forwards Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike, so they need an experienced scorer.  The acquisition bolsters their attack if Cooper can find his FC Dallas form, as well as his health.  Also, MLS in this case is reversing the trend – bringing a talented American national in the prime of his career back to the domestic league, instead of exporting him.  From a USMNT perspective, he is fortunate to play a position of desperate need for Bradley’s team, but if he wants to compete for a roster spot he will have to not only compete with World Cup experienced Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, and Robbie Findley but hold off up-and-comers like Juan Agudelo.

But what do you think?  Can Kenny Cooper replicate or come close to his 2008 season?  Does he still have a place on the USMNT?  And did he make the right move coming back to MLS?

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  1. Neill

    January 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Kenny’s return to the MLS must have been a big decision to make. Europe wasn’t quite the promised land he was looking for but theres no way anyone should doubt his talent and I suspect he’ll refind the form he had for FC Dallas and greatly help the Portland Timbers settle into the MLS.

    I wonder if this will spark a surge of ex-MLS potential superstars swallowing that bitter pill and move back to the league that made them? Altidore and Adu, I’m looking at you specifically!!

  2. Charles

    January 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    This is exactly what those of us that are complaining are looking for.
    Keep well known Americans here. When they become heros, they are doing at it at home, where people saw his dad play.

    For those of us that remember Kenny Cooper Sr playing, it is cool to see the son do so well.

    I wouldn’t rule out him playing for the national team again. Myabe an uphill climb, but many have already written him off entirely.

    ps. totally different posters on these real soccer articles huh?
    Where is Roger who called us all Fake soccer fans ?

  3. Timbers Fan

    January 18, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I think Cooper should play a lot if healthy and score 10 or so goals in MLS this year. Portland does need to sign some midfielders to increase our quality in the middle of the pitch but if we can get that done we will not look like an expansion side… we will win the Cascadia Cup, make the MLS playoffs and go deep in the US Open Cup.

  4. Soundersinmyblood

    January 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    seattle is going to humiliate Kenny and the timbers! Make them beg to go back to 2 division. Sounders rule the Pacific Northwest.

    • Lysander

      January 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

      I hope this is true, but I am also happy to see Cooper going to a cascadia team. I hope he has a good year, rewarded with a DP contract and sticks around the league.

  5. Robert

    January 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Welcome home jobber

  6. me

    January 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Well, he’ll get playing time, being on an expansion team. And for someone who desires to be on the National team, playing time, regardless of the level of the league, is much more valuable than sitting on your butt in Europe.

  7. cooptroop

    January 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Depends on his health mainly. In my opinion, even if he doesn’t get good service from Portland’s hastily assembled midfield, I would bet on him being a top 5 goal scorer in MLS next season. All USMNT fans should be hoping his career gets back on track considering our current weak crop of American forwards.

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