Assuming Kenny Cooper actually suits up for the Seattle Sounders in 2014 – a safe bet now that he’s under contract – he’ll be playing for his sixth different team in seven years.
Along the way, he’s switched clubs seven times.
First it was a move from FC Dallas to Germany’s 1860 Munchen after scoring 25 goals in 45 MLS matches from 2008-09. But he played sparingly in Germany and was sent on loan to England’s Plymouth Argyle for part of the 2009-10 season and returned to 1860 the following season. After scoring just two goals over two campaigns in Europe, it was back to MLS where he ended up with the Portland Timbers and scored eight goals in 2011.
The Timbers then flipped him to the New York Red Bulls, where he broke out with 18 goals in 2012. Despite being the league’s second-leading scorer, he was deemed too expensive and traded back to Dallas for the 2013 season.
Dallas was loaded with forwards and moved him around the pitch, often deploying the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder as a wide midfielder and bringing him off the bench. Cooper scored just six goals, his lowest total in any MLS season in which he played at least 1,100 minutes.
So it was another move, this time to the Sounders. Suffice it to say, he’s hoping to get off his career rollercoaster.
“I would love to be in Seattle for a long time,” said Cooper, still just 29. “I’m just thrilled with where I’ve ended up and incredibly grateful for the faith shown in me – really looking forward to it. It’s a really great opportunity.
“I think everyone dreams of playing in that type of atmosphere, and we’re so fortunate now that's in this league. Seattle provides such a great place to play. From my experience being a player on the away team, I think it’s a game that everybody looks forward to experiencing that fan culture.”
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Of course, it’s not just the constant movement that has defined Cooper’s recent trajectory. His goal-scoring prowess also seems to wax and wane.
Cooper’s last outstanding year came when he was paired with Thierry Henry on the New York Red Bulls. He’s hoping being surrounded by the comparably talented Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey will have a similar effect.
“They’re both players that I really admire,” Cooper said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “Clint’s had an incredible career abroad, also with national team and in MLS. I had the opportunity to meet him once in a [USMNT] camp. I know he’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to seeing him again. … There’s so many players in this team that are so talented and have so much great experience. I’m really keeping my mind open and looking forward to spending time around these guys – playing with them, learning from them and being their teammate.”
Although Cooper has seen the most success when playing as a forward, he said he’s more than willing to fill whatever role is asked of him whether that means standing in front of the goal or being given more defensive responsibilities.
Considering majority owner Joe Roth’s stated desire to acquire more players “who will run through that brick wall,” this is likely just what the Sounders wanted to hear.
“I’ll help contribute on both sides of the ball,” Cooper said, “also, putting in an honest effort every day and in every game and look to give the team my best every day.”