FRISCO, Texas — It might seem a bit ridiculous to say that FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper is in a slump simply because he hasn’t found the back of his net in the first two games with his new club, but anyone who has followed Cooper’s career closely enough knows how lethal he typically is at the start of a season.
To that effect, 2013 marks the first time in seven MLS seasons that Cooper has not scored in one of the first two games of the year. Still, the Dallas native isn’t panicking, especially not with Houston in town on Sunday (1 pm ET; ESPN2, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com)
“I do feel good and I’m really happy with my teammates,” said Cooper, who re-joined FC Dallas via a trade from the New York Red Bulls in February. “Hopefully with each game we can all progress both individually and as a team. I think at times against Chivas we did some good things and had some good chances. Obviously, I wish I’d put mine away, but hopefully this weekend we can take our chances a little bit better.”
Cooper nearly got on the scoreboard in the first minute of this past weekend's 3-1 loss to Chivas USA, but his shot was straight at Goats goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. In the second half of the match, Cooper sent another gilt-edged chance wide in the 54th minute of the then-scoreless contest.
Both chances are ones head coach Schellas Hyndman knows Cooper would bury when in form.
“Strikers are funny because they can be on a hot trend or they can be on a cold trend,” said Hyndman. “Right now, he’s on a little bit of a cold trend, but the thing you want to do is he’s got to regain his confidence and just get through it knowing there will be days like this and better days will be coming.”
Sunday’s Texas Derby against Houston would be a perfect time for Cooper to break his mini-slump, and history is on his side. Cooper is FCD's all-time leading scorer against the Dynamo, having scored four goals in 10 Derby games.
For Cooper, scoring would be nice but winning would surely be better.
“There’s a lot of pride at stake and we as players know how much the game means to our fans and that in-state rivalry is a big thing,” said Cooper. “Knowing how much it means to the fans you want to go out there and give your best and I think you see all the players doing that in these games.”