Saturday, June 2, 2012

When Will Kenny Cooper Get A Call-Up to the United States Men's National Team?

In the Red Bulls 1-1 draw with Chivas USA it was Kenny Cooper who scored the equalizer. In the team’s first US Open Cup game against the Charleston Battery he scored the first goal of the game, one that would eventually be the game-winner.

The tally against the Goats was his 11th of the season and ties him with San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski for the league lead. He’s also tied for the league lead with Wondolowski with four game-winning goals.

The two share the same amount of goals, but what is different is that only one is currently in camp for the United States Men’s National Team in preparation for its upcoming friendlies ahead of World Cup Qualifying.

Chris Wondolowski and former MLS forward Herculez Gomez were both called into camp and deservedly so; they’ve been on incredible scoring streaks.

It is well-known that players getting consistent minutes for their clubs and playing in good form are favored for spots with the national team. So with Cooper playing his best soccer in years, the time has come to once again ask: When will Kenny Cooper get called up?

Cooper has been a scoring machine in his time with MLS and is playing his best soccer since 2008 when he scored 18 goals in 30 games (19 goals in all competitions) for FC Dallas.

The Red Bulls acquired him in the offseason for a 2013 first round draft pick and allocation money and it seemed like a lot to give up for a guy who plays a position the team was pretty deep at. But Cooper quickly rose to the cream of the crop and has been much needed since Luke Rodgers was denied a visa, Juan Agudelo was traded, Corey Hertzog was loaned out and Thierry Henry missed several matches due to injury.

Cooper has consistently delivered for the Red Bulls this season. He is on his second four game scoring streak of the season and he has been able to make an impact on the game from both off the bench—where he was the first two games of the season—and starting.

As the United States struggled to finish against Brazil Wednesday despite plenty of chances the team is still looking for answers on the offensive side of the ball.

The 27-year-old Cooper, once a Manchester United prospect and reserve squad member, has had fans clamoring for the team to give him a shot since the beginning of his career. And in the chances he’s risen to the challenge.

He’s made 10 appearances for the USMNT and scored four goals. In his first World Cup Qualifying start for the Yanks in 2008 scored. He also scored twice in the 2009 Gold Cup.

The consistent snubs are puzzling, but Cooper just keeps playing and scoring.

“I’ve had the honor to represent my country and it has been some of the highlights of my career, there have been some amazing moments and I’m hungry for more of those opportunities,” he said in an interview with the press after practice in late May.

Cooper is a big forward who can play with his back to the goal but is actually a better technical player than his size suggests. As he’s shown in his partnership with Henry this year, he does a good job of playing alongside another forward and sharing the ball, not only scoring for himself but feeding and creating space for his partner to score as well.

He also just has a nose for goal, putting in some rebounds and so-called “garbage goals” as well.

He’s in his prime and getting lots of playing time for his club. He says he has never been contacted by Jurgen Kilinsmann but the question is why not?

What else does Cooper have to do to earn just an opportunity?

Photo Credit.
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

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