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RBNY Notebook: Cooper fighting for starting spot?

Mehdi Ballouchy and Kenny Cooper

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Following the New York Red Bulls’ 4-1 loss to D.C. United on Sunday, head coach Hans Backe discussed the possibility of benching forward Kenny Cooper for future road matches.

Cooper has responded to those comments, and he wants to continue to be a permanent part of the team’s starting lineup for both home and away games.

Having gotten off to a strong start in his first year with the Red Bulls with seven goals, Cooper is hopeful his form, production and partnership with Thierry Henry can keep him on the field despite New York’s need to strengthen a backline that has yet to record a clean sheet this season.

“I respect my coaches and they’re certainly entitled to their thoughts and opinions,” Cooper told MLSsoccer.com. “I respect them, their experience, but I’m going to give my best every day. Obviously, I’m hungry to play and be out there and my mindset is to give my best every day for the coaches and the team.”

Lade learns from starting debut

One player who recently made his way into the Red Bulls lineup and looks set to stay there for the near future is Connor Lade. The rookie has replaced the injured Roy Miller at left back, and will continue to do so despite a subpar performance in his starting debut vs. D.C. United.

Lade was involved in two of three goals United scored in the first half, and rather than sulk on plays where he could have done better, the St. John’s product has made sure to learn from the mistakes.

“I just got to be aware every second on the field,” Lade said. “You never know what’s going to happen. A little mis-hit or what, you have to be in the right position every time. From there, it’s being really consistent in everything you do. I just have to be stronger out there, and be more aware and consistent.”

Lade looked to implement that mentality into the second half of the 4-1 loss, appearing much more composed and not crumbling like most rookies would after a rough first-half showing.

“You just have to keep your head straight and realize that you have another 45 minutes to play,” said Lade. “If you look back on it, it’s not going to help you at all. You just have to learn from it.”

Backe continues defense of Holgersson

With growing questions about center back Markus Holgersson, Backe once again defended the 27-year-old’s abilities despite his struggles in the lopsided loss to D.C. United.

“It’s not one player’s fault that we do these mistakes. Everyone contributes to the goals we concede,” Backe said. “I think he’s been quite okay in his defending. I don’t see any numbers of mistakes so far. I think one perhaps against Montreal [Impact], I don’t remember.”

Asked about the final goal the Red Bulls’ allowed to D.C. United, when Chris Pontius easily beat a flat-footed Holgersson, Backe pointed the breakdown on the play to center back Tyler Ruthven, who came on at halftime for an injured Stephen Keel.

“A center back should never ever cross over the other center back, that’s basic,” Backe said. “Markus is leading Pontius into Ruthven, and then Ruthven starts marking the other striker and cross over Markus.”

Backe acknowledged, however, that Holgersson’s adjustment to MLS could be hampered by the more individual defensive efforts that are required in the league.

“If you see Scandinavia, there is very, very solid team defending,” Backe said. “Very, very strong, so that could be the kind of transition to get used to.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.