FRISCO, Texas – Was it a handball? Probably.
Do FC Dallas or Kenny Cooper, scorer of a questionable game-winner, care? Not at all.
“I honestly don’t know,” Cooper told reporters about his 90th-minute goal on Sunday that decided the Texas Derby in favor of Dallas, 3-2. “I’m not sure. I may have gone to head it and somehow it ended falling right in front of me. I’m honestly not sure.”
The first couple weeks of the season have been a tough go for Cooper as he gels with his new – and old – team, but sometimes it’s an ugly goal that starts a hot streak and his coach certainly hopes that’s the case after Sunday’s victory, which took Dallas to 2-1-0.
“I think we all want to find the Kenny that left here,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “That’s the Kenny that we remember and the Kenny that we worked awfully hard to get him back. I think we’re only going to see more and more out of Kenny.”
Cooper’s game was quiet for the first 90 minutes as Hyndman deployed him in a more defensive-minded role on the right flank, limiting the forward to just two shots on goal.
“I spoke with Schellas about it and, again, I felt he prepared me well for it and let me know his expectations,” said Cooper. “I’m comfortable in different positions on the field, so at the end of the day I want to give coach whatever it is he wants from me whether it’s as a single striker or out wide.”
After FC Dallas relinquished a two-goal advantage – Andrew Driver and Brad Davis supplied the goals for Houston – Cooper moved into a more offensive role and tucked away his first of the season, a goal which could prove to be the most important goal FCD score for quite some time.
“It just feels great to beat them,” Cooper said. “The team’s worked really hard this week, we spent a lot of time training and doing videos. Schellas and the staff really prepared us well for the game, so it’s great to get a win.”
Controversial or not, the goal was a perfect example of the resiliency shown by FCD throughout the afternoon, something that was missing for most of last season.
“For us, the character showed,” Hyndman said. “We let you back, but we’re still going to win.”