The New York Red Bulls traded Kenny Cooper earlier this week for one reason and one reason alone: to free up room on their salary cap.
The Red Bulls shipped Cooper to FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money on Monday in a deal that saw New York lose their top goalscorer from 2012. The loss leaves RBNY with a big hole to fill, but also with substantially more money to sign draft picks, free agents and a potential third Designated Player this summer.
Talks of unloading Cooper’s high salary began about a month ago and the Red Bulls were initially against the idea. As time went on, however, New York realized that parting ways with a forward who scored 18 times last season was a move they likely had to make.
“We were really entertaining the idea of if we kept Kenny, we know what he brings us and it is phenomenal, but we would not be able to add any depth at all,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday. “Virtually all the supplemental guys and all the trialists we [brought in] would not be coming in and to take it a step further, the idea of a third DP was out of the question.
“It became a real reality and we had to make a decision.”
When Petke reached out to Cooper to inform him of the trade, the polite Texas native apologized to Petke about him having to go through such an ordeal so early into his head-coaching career.
“It tells a lot about who he is,” said Petke. “We left it off in that he’s in a good situation back home and he’s going to have a big role there.”