FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper was voted Major League Soccer's Player of the Week for Week 18 of the 2008 season. Cooper scored two goals and tallied an assist in Dallas' 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy at Pizza Hut Park on Sunday. The victory improved The Hoops' record to 5-6-7 (22 points). They now sit fourth in the Western Conference, but only two points separate Dallas from the Western leaders, Real Salt Lake.
FC Dallas scorched the Galaxy backline in the first 20 minutes of the half. Cooper got on the scoreboard in the 15th minute when he dribbled past Galaxy defender Ante Jazic and unloaded a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box that snuck by Steve Cronin into the right lower corner of the goal.
Two minutes later, Cooper continued to punish the Galaxy defense, this time combining with teammate Dominic Oduro for a give-and-go combination that led to Cooper's second tally of the night. Cooper started the sequence by dispossessing Galaxy defender Eduardo Dominguez and then laying the ball off to Oduro. Oduro raced into the box and passed it back across for Cooper who slotted the shot past Cronin to put Dallas up 2-0.
Cooper and his teammates continued the early domination and added a third goal in 36th minute. Battling for possession in midfield, Cooper sent a back-heel pass to Arturo Alvarez who provided a precise through ball down the right flank for Oduro. The Ghanian international dribbled past Cronin and touched the ball into the open goal giving FC Dallas a 3-0 first-half lead.
Cooper almost registered a hat-trick in the 85th minute with a powerful shot from the 18-yard mark but he was denied by the crossbar. Dallas would finally net their fourth and final goal in the 89th minute as Abe Thompson sent in a curling shot into the top corner of the net. The game ended 4-0, bringing Dallas' home record to 4-2-4.
A Dallas native, Cooper started his professional career with the Manchester United reserves in 2003, winning the Manchester Senior Cup in his first season with the squad. After several loan spells, Cooper returned to the states in 2006 to play for FC Dallas. He scored 11 goals and four assists in his first season, leading The Hoops to their second consecutive Western Conference semifinal appearance. His 2007 campaign was cut short due to a broken right tibia but Cooper has recovered this season to match his career-high in goals (11) while adding three assists. He received his first MLS All-Star game invitation, starting in MLS' 3-2 victory over West Ham United and is currently tied with Edson Buddle for second in the Budweiser Golden Boot race behind Landon Donovan.
This is Cooper's first Player of the Week award this season, and the second of his career. FC Dallas (5-6-7) returns to action on August 3 when they travel to BMO Field to play Toronto FC at 4 p.m. ET.
The Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected each week of the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at http://www.soccerreporters.com/.
2008 Player of the Week WinnersWeek 1: Terry Cooke (Colorado Rapids)
Week 2: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 3: Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew)
Week 4: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 5: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 6: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 7: Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
Week 8: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 9: Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Chicago Fire)
Week 10: Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)
Week 11: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo)
Week 12: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 13: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 14: Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)
Week 15: Adam Cristman (New England Revolution)
Week 16: John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
Week 17: Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew)
Week 18: Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas)