Hard to imagine that Kenny Cooper was fourth on the preseason depth chart of strikers around Red Bull Arena.
Also hard to imagine that even a little bit of creeping self-doubt didn’t ooze into his baggage when he packed up and left Portland in the winter, bound for Harrison, N.J.
He kept that chin up and things are going Cooper’s way now.
The confidence never dipped over three previous three years, when things failed to go his way in stops at Germany’s 1860 Munich, England’s Plymouth Argyle and with the Portland Timbers. He told me so the other day when we spoke for a Soccer Today segment. (The interview is here at the 12:45 mark of the program, but do check out the Shep Messing interview later, too.) Cooper talked about a tremendous support system that kept any seeds of doubt from flowering.
I feel very fortunate in that I have a great support system around me. I have a father around me who was in the professional game a long time. He coached, he played. He is certainly someone I’m able to speak to, and we’re able to relate different professional experiences to one another. My family is a soccer family. We’ve been around the game our entire lives. Their support means the world to me, along with my wife and her family. Everyone helps keeps me positive whether things going well or not. I appreciate so much the belief they have in me. It’s my hope that no matter how things are going, I can keep my head on straight, stay focused and be positive, and they certainly help me do that on a daily basis.
It’s sure paying off this year.
About 24 hours after we spoke to Cooper, he nailed two more goals. In fact, Cooper hit the important first two as his Red Bulls dismantled a Columbus Crew defense that picked a very bad time for a nap.
Cooper is tied for second among MLS leading scorers.
Round 1: Kalif Alhassan, Portland
Round 2: David Estrada, Seattle
Round 3: Thierry Henry, New York
Round 4: Thierry Henry, New York
Round 5: Kenny Cooper, New York