Suitors lining up as Red Bulls ponder Cooper deal

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

The New York Red Bulls are well underway in the overhauling of their roster, with deals for Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave from Real Salt Lake and Kosuke Kimura from Portland expected to be announced in the coming days, but the biggest move they make could involve the trading of the team’s leading goal scorer in 2012.

Sources have told SBI that the Red Bulls are seriously considering trading Kenny Cooper, with a half-dozen teams currently expressing interest in the 18-goal striker. Cooper’s 2013 salary is believed to be in the $500,000 range, a hefty price to handle for a team already saddled with three Designated Players and the potential addition of Brazilian midfielder Juninho Pernambucano. (It should be noted Cooper’s deal is NOT a Designated Player deal, with the figure being a total that can be reached by buying down the number with allocation money to get it to the max non-DP salary limit of $400,000.)

The Red Bulls’ expected acquisition of Fabian Espindola gives the team a new strike partner for Thierry Henry, though the club would have to add another forward for depth if Cooper is dealt.

It might seem strange for the team to be wheeling and dealing without a coach in place, but sporting director Andy Roxburgh has turned to technical director Ricardo Campos to handle moves until a coach is hired. Campos, one of the few holdovers of the Erik Soler regime, has established himself as a trusted figure by the new leadership in New York and sources tell SBI that Campos was the architect behind the blockbuster deal with Real Salt Lake.

Among other issues facing the Red Bulls is Dax McCarty’s salary, which will see a considerable increase in 2013. He seems a safer bet to return next year after an outstanding 2012 season.

Dealing Cooper would help ease some of the team’s salary cap issues, and could potentially help offset the allocation money spent on acquiring Espindola and Olave.

So why not just keep Cooper? Despite his productive 2012 season, Cooper still never fully convinced the Red Bulls that he was the most effective strike partner for Henry. While that may have been the case, what Cooper did do in 2011 is convince other MLS teams that he was worth the investment, which is why a third of the league’s teams have made serious inquiries about Cooper.

What do you think about the Red Bulls trading Cooper? See it as a good idea? Would you want your team to pick up Cooper?

Share your thoughts below.

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66 Responses to Suitors lining up as Red Bulls ponder Cooper deal

  1. Patrick says:

    Cooper won’t be moved until Rodgers hears about his visa I believe later this month.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Why would you dump your leading scorer with 18 MLS goals for someone with half that production? Thierry Henry didn’t have as many goals for 10X the salary. It sounds like if they spent the allocation elsewhere he could be cap-reduced by labeling him a DP. Pennywise pound foolish.

      They were a very good offensive team with a very slack defense. IMO it’s silly to dismantle your strong offense even if you’re bringing in Olave and Kimura, etc. Cut McCarty, cut Marquez, and voila more than enough money to keep Cooper.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        FWIW no matter how much Henry has fought Old Man Age, everyone breaks down sometime, Henry showed signs of it this year, and there is a risk in betting on an actually older horse.

      • Paul says:

        Coopers goals came because of henry, I can’t count how many time cooper lost the ball or got out hustled trying to create goals himself. That being said Rogers is proven to make the correct runs and was a perfect compliment for Henry while he was here

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Except (a) Espindola and Rodgers each score half as many goals as Cooper did this season (9 vs. 18) and (b) Rodgers + Henry was insufficient to win the title last time. I could understand trying something different, but something the same as has already not worked? Your GF went up +7 without Rodgers….

          • TomG says:

            Paul is right. Anyone watched the games knows that Henry created just about all Kenny’s goals and Coop’s lack of pace consistently killed counter attacks in their infancy. Sell high on Kenny.

            • Bryan3536 says:

              Don’t forget that Rogers missed time due to injury – he was on tremendous pace before missing out (and Juan Aguedelo coming in and, while exciting, not regularly producing the chances Rogers did with Henry). I like Cooper and what he did, but he isn’t a good fit with Henry – something I say with full understanding of what they were able to do together anyway. Give Henry someone who suits his style – Rogers is one – and more regular chances will come.

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              Ummmm, except when I hire a striker I usually don’t care who’s doling out his goals so much as if he’s scoring them. And Cooper was #2 in the league in goals to Wondo.

              So, unless Henry is taking off, I don’t see the value of complaining that his strike partner sets him up a lot. Isn’t that how it works most of the time?

              Now, the counterattack argument is somewhat more sensible, but what about Rodgers screams speed threat? It’s like for like. Now Espindola has some speed, but isn’t that Henry’s role, to be the guy working off the target? And in terms of practical effect, signing two players who together equal Cooper production is not the same as retaining Cooper, because you only play two forwards at a time, and Cooper + Henry was more productive than Cooper alone.

              I think Rodgers did you a favor by overstaying his visa and you are about to kneecap your team in service of cap clearing that could be accomplished with more upside and less downside by selling or releasing Marquez.

              For that matter, I think if Henry’s games played start to slide — and he will be 36 — you will regret treating him as the primary piece with whom the partner must mesh. Henry is still very productive, but if he starts to slide then that would be like Houston forcing forwards to mesh with Ching instead of Bruin. You should be looking long term, and Cooper led the team in goals and is in his 20s.

              • daggius says:

                cooper is consistently one of the top scorers in the league, doesn’t matter what team he plays for, i.e. who his strike partner is. remember him in dallas?

                anyone who thinks he isnt a huge addition to any team is wrong

                JUST DUMP MARQUEZ

      • Jason says:

        I think they are deciding to do that because Kenny Cooper is very expensive for what he brings. He may be their leading scorer, but it’s mainly because of Henry feeding him great balls. Kenny is not the type of guy who creates his own chances. That’s what Portland wanted him to do and he obviously couldn’t do it. He is still a decent finisher, but he can’t create space for himself. He also wasn’t that great at setting others up for shots.

        Espindola is a guy who creates all kinds of chances for himself as well as for others and is a great finisher as well. On top of that, he comes at a cheaper price tag. I think this is a great trade by New York.

  2. Troy says:

    I like Cooper and his move will be a loss for rbny.

  3. Hugo Scheckter says:

    Cooper would be a great fit for DC United… a striker that can actually score goals would be a great replacement for Pajoy

    • Jake says:

      I wouldn’t mind that as a DC fan, although who knows how steep the price might be. Def a big upgrade from Pajoy.

    • Josh D says:

      Beat me to it! Olsen’s only major weakness at this point in time is still relying on hard workers over more skill, but less effort. Pajoy and Santos are both runners who’ll chase balls down all game. However, neither of them can score or create on their own. Having Cooper as a central point for the attack would be fantastic. He’s not DP worthy, but he’s a mobile striker who can hold the ball up and bring other players into the game. His work effort is also high enough to satisfy Benny. He brings a calmer presence in the final third.

      I also don’t think Olsen has faith in Salihi so it will be interesting to see if he stays.

      An attacking force of: Cooper, Pontius, DeRo, and Najar would be one of the best on the East Coast.

      Ives – Any rumors on who’s interested in Cooper?

      • Bryan3536 says:

        Not for nothing, but this is precisely the reason why he is so frustrating – he’s not going to play like Andy Carrol, or some big up top who can hold the ball up.

    • JoeW says:

      Part of the reason that Hamdi Salihi never got consistent playing time is that Olsen wants a striker who does some of what Pajoy does. He wants someone to work on defense, be a target man, be comfortable with his back to goal, be comfortable in a 4-5-1 setup. Cooper is none of those things. For what Cooper offers, DCU is probably better off just sticking with Salihi.

      • buckyball says:

        You know what you need in DC and our experience in Portland says that whatever Cooper’s many skills are, working with his back to goal and getting to aerial crosses in a crowd is not his strong suit.

        We didn’t (and don’t) have the clever passers that put the ball at Cooper’s feet as he made a short final run at goal. I would bet that Henry and other RB’s gave him chances that made use of his preferred tactic.

        So like most every forward, there’s a right way and wrong way to make use of him.

    • Rabid RBNY says:

      I would hope RBNY would have the forsight to NOT trade Cooper to a team in the East. I dread the notion of having to play against him 3 times in the regular season and potentially twice in the post-season. DC or anywhere for that matter.

  4. Rex says:

    I would like to see the books. I am not sure how a team with that many stars can trade for more stars while using allocation to do so. So your salaries increase and your ability to buy down the salaries decreases. I guess if you drop Rafa and Cooper it might balance but what about this new Brazilian guy?

    • dub says:

      new Brazilian guy??? it’s not just some guy, it’s freaking Juninho!!!

      ps go Sounders!

    • Juan says:

      Don’t you know that the salary rules don’t apply for LA or NY? How does LA afford Beckham, Keane and Donovan at the same time? And they won the MLS cup again? amazing.

      NY can pour a ton of money into the team and still cant win much, no matter how much MLS wants them to be a force.

      My team, New England, is a bargain basement team that has just shed the only name on the team… Benny because he makes too much. The league needs to enforce the salary rules evenly for everybody and not let NY or LA try to buy their championships

      • Ryan says:

        Kind of a hollow argument when Houston Dynamo (third lowest payroll in the league) is back to back finalists, don’t you think?

      • Shake says:

        So how has NY ever bought a championship? They have spent well more than LA and not a single trophy to show for it.

        And how do you account for Toronto being at the bottom of the table every single year since joining the league, despite their very high salary compared to other teams in the eastern conference?

        Why is Houston consistently knocking off the best eastern teams with the leagues 3rd lowest budget?

        LA could both be a better team and spend less money. The money is spent on building the brand, not on being the best team it could be.

    • Mr. Teez says:

      great point

  5. Mike in Missouri says:

    We could use someone who can actually finish at SKC, put I don’t know how well Kenny would fit with our high pressure system. Of course, Peter may tweak it a bit anyway if Rosell is going to replace Espinoza.

  6. Matt says:

    Come on Philly!

    Dump Adu, and then get Cooper and LeToux – we’ll never know who actually scored the goal until after the announcement!

    • CorkSoccer says:

      Philly needs to stop being cheap and only “developing” young talent. Keep Adu and get Cooper and LeToux that way we have the forwards that can finish Adu’s passes.

    • bizzy says:

      I wish Philly would dump Adu, that will be a great day in MLS…….. and he gets picked up by either DC United teaming up and learning from Dwayne De Rosario (who’s career took of right around Adu’s age) or gets picked up by Seattle where he can play in the midfield with a healthy Rosales and Montero, supplying Eddie Johnson……. I wish Christmas comes early for me and US Soccer this year!!!!!!

  7. Pete says:

    Ives with this being in place ( hope that if happen will go West) how much true is in the Alan rumor. Is it possible that they wait for Luke to get visa?

  8. Evan says:

    Cooper > Espindola

    • Peaton says:

      More line Cooper ≠ Espindola. Cooper scores goals, Espindola is a bigger contributor to overall offense. I don’t see why they can’t have both because Henry is going to want to play creator too, that’s just how he is here. I see no reason to sign J.P. from Brazil. He was a favorite of mine, but I agree with other commentators that the RB problem is defense. They were 3rd in goals scored this year. Maybe Cooper contributes to defensive problems by not pressing, but its odd to blame him. Seems like they need better backs and a holding midfield crusher like R. Clarke.

    • bizzy says:

      +1
      Whats is wrong with NYRB? Getting rid of the second highest goal scorer in MLS this past season? Skill or not the man is doing what he is suppose to be doing, scoring goals. Whether the goals are pretty or not, or not making Goal of the week shouldn’t matter. You get rid of Cooper and keep Le Toux who hasn’t produced for you yet at that position? Keep what you have, not what you think you have. No disrespect to Le Toux because he is a dynamic and versatile striker but hasn’t been a regular for NY. Don’t fix what is not broken. NY had a problem with Defense and they brought in Olave and Kimura…..see how the team fairs before getting rid of the second highest goal scorer in the league

  9. Bob L says:

    It should tell you something w/ 1/3 of the league is looking to snag him. He wasn’t pretty but he was effective. Henry’s bug up his ass w/ this guy is just ridiculous. Plus he’s not only a class act on the pitch but he goes out in the community. I get the $$ issue. Honestly whether or not it’s good in the end really depends on who we pick up. I hope management is seriously considering Luke. He won’t be looking to break the bank and could be some excellent bang for the buck. Espindola and Luke sharing time could possible score more goals than Cooper. This might make more sense financially then technically.

    • NCT says:

      Same problem that LA had with Beckham in the first couple of years. Until Bruce Arena came in and laid down the law, Beckham whined and everyone tried to make him happy. Here is Henry doing the same in New York with the Coaching up in the air. He complains about Cooper and they are trying to please Henry. Someone will win (maybe DCU) because Cooper will be out for blood and want to prove NYRB made a big mistake. Even if they decide not to trade him, he will have no faith in the upper management there.

  10. DJ says:

    I certainly would not mind Cooper at SKC—they certainly look primed to grab a major poacher this offseason.

    Ives, what are NYRB’s plans for Le Toux? Any chance either of them comes to SKC, or is Vermes looking for someone from Europe/South America? Wouldn’t mind finding another Higuain, either.

  11. Gonzalo says:

    I think Cooper should come down to Houston. He would be a nice addition if Ching does retire. Having Cooper up front with Bruin would be a deadly combo.

  12. ManicMessiah says:

    Depends on what they get for him, but i’m not against trading him. Henry and Cahill will probably play together, and paying a third striker Cooper’s salary isn’t a great idea. Henry doesn’t work hard enough at this point in his career to play up front with Cooper, either.

  13. Pingback: MLS Trade Roundup: RSL Planning Overhaul | Soccer Perspectives

  14. Sabella says:

    It pretty clear that Cooper doesn’t rate with Henry. No doubt Cooper is less able to create his own chances but he can finish when serviced and it would be foolish to deal him. We all know Henry will be hurt for a third of the season so we’re going to need depth up front.

  15. Sean Doyle says:

    As much as I want the Union to re-sign Seba Le Toux, I’d take Cooper over our favorite former forward. Cooper brings height and a proven ability to score. He could also make Freddy Adu much more useful. Too many of his cross went wanting in 2012, Cooper may have converted a few of them for some much needed DOOP.

    Plus, Cooper absolutely murdered the Union this season with five goals in three matches. I’d rather he be on our side from now on.

    • T-lover says:

      He had 18 goals because he played with Henry,he also miss a penalty and cost his team the win.

      • Bryan3536 says:

        …No. Cooper made the penalty. Henry cost them the win by going into the box too early, getting the made PK taken away, and forcing Cooper to do the awkward re-take of the PK. Oh, and then Henry let Miller take the free kick.

  16. cairo says:

    1. Were the 18 goals that Cooper scored with Henry’s help worth the dirty looks and lack of support in the locker room? Maybe in the pocketbook, but if I were Cooper, I’d want out of there. With decent teammates he’s a proven goalscorer in this league, with or without Henry. Philly makes a ton of sense, with Adu and Farfan making runs and getting him the ball.
    2. All that said, if I were RBNY I’d much rather have Espindola. He’s a badass, the kind of win at all costs kind of forward that the Sounders, for one, have lacked. He doesn’t seem like the type to cower to Henry, so that could be interesting.
    3. Why does RBNY need another forward? Just move Cahill to his natural position and spend the money on an attacking mid. If I were them, I’d have taken Morales instead of Espindola–that would have a hell of an offense.

  17. Iggy says:

    I am not much a fan of cooper, but he is an effective MLS player. Take away the pens and tap is and he’s probably a 7 goal 3 assist guy, who drifts out of position, is slow, is 6-3 but ducks away from headers. A small man stuck in a big mans body, but slow, same reason no one rates him for the international level.

    He is ok, but he’s not going to be the key to a championship. Look how good the Donovan and Keane combo plays together up front. TH14 and KC are completely disfunctional compared to that. Over the course of the year the NY combo put up more goals, but come playoff time, they can’t together turn it up a notch.

  18. GG says:

    Any idea what NYRB are looking for in return?
    Just Cap/Allocation space? Or player(s)?

  19. Patrick says:

    Please please please let it end up being Houston. We really need a forward.

  20. bottlcaps says:

    Do you ever wonder WHY the NYRB have such gawdawful luck in reaching the MLS CUP. Well. look no further than this article. 10 goal strikers for 500K a year are a rare commodity. Trading or selling Cooper is so dumb, I cant tell you all the ways. Keep Cooper, dump Marquez.

  21. Naked Animals says:

    He looks like a player that could fit in at Houston they play a smashmouth offense, he’d get some goals.

  22. Hal says:

    they need to get rid of the salary cap. It hurts the quality of the league.

  23. NY Soccer Man says:

    Once again the RedBulls prove their ineptitude by contemplating a trade!
    Did anyone watch former RedBulls coach Bruce Arena win another championship on Saturday? Nice job in letting him go RedBulls!
    How about the trading of Dwayne De Rosario? How do you trade away one of the best playmakers in the league?
    And why do they keep Rafa?
    Trading away a great striker like Kenny would be the stupidest move this club ever made!
    Who is getting the 18 goals?
    Le Toux was a complete disaster. Everyone on this board that thinks Cooper’s goals were easy because of a great player like Henry should consider the Le Toux trade disaster. They benched Cooper for Le Toux and the results were terrible!
    Cahill is a terrific player, legendary player actually. But he was only able to score one goal for the RedBulls! ONE GOAL!
    The RedBulls benched Kenny for about 6 games and he still leads the team in scoring.

    How about the RedBulls address the major problem for this team……THE DEFENSE! Kosuke Kimura is a great start but they need to keep going. Rafa is a major problem for this team. Cut him, eat the money and move on.

    COOPER NEEDS TO STAY REDBULLS!

  24. JP says:

    Always better to trade someone a year early than a year too late. Cooper’s value has never been higher and he will command a hefty return. I think he is going to have a disappointing 2013.

  25. cairo says:

    Man, people can be ridiculous on this website. Kenny Cooper has scored more than 11 goals in three different MLS seasons. He scored 8 for a god awful Timbers expansion club. All this crap about his goals being tap-ins is just that. I’m sorry, but part of being a forward is anticipating play and being in the right place at the right time. Oh wait, you guys dislike Wondo too… Ridiculous. Put another way, should we start subtracting all of Dempsey’s “tap-ins” from his Fulham total, because there were quite a few. Playing with Henry obviously helped him get more goals, but somebody has to knock them in, and nobody else in NY has even come close to Cooper’s production in this regard.
    Instead of worrying about what Kenny Cooper isn’t, worry about what he is–a guy who can shoot from distance, is calm on the ball, has a knack for making good runs, and who scored 18 flipping goals despite not being started part of the season. Offense was NOT the problem in NY last year. A disorganized defense and a coach who couldn’t think his way out of a paper bag were. I don’t even like Kenny Cooper, and prefer Espindola, but all this bashing is so ridiculous.
    Oh, and while I’m on my diatribe, somebody posted that he shies away from headers in traffic. If you want a shining example of that, look no further than USMNT striker Jozy Altidore.

    • NCT says:

      Amen Brother.

    • Sean says:

      There are lots of Jozy-haters also.

      Cahill and Espindola are more than enough to replace KFC.

      The defense played better toward the end of this past season. Olave and Kimura will help. Cahill proved that he was not the playmaker NY has lacked for years. He is much better up top.

      The bottom line is that NY has to clear some space for a playmaker. Juninho would be a fine addition.

      • George says:

        It’s kind of a lame-duck argument, but recognizing the right positions for the players we already have could go a long way too. Lade is reportedly a defensive midfielder, but more often than not, he seemed to get in the way on defense (a la playoffs), and produce more moving up the pitch. Dax is a good workhorse on both sides of the ball, and it’s very clear that Cahill is better on the attacking half as well. Whether the credit solely rests with Henry or not, the Henry/Cooper system worked pretty well this year. No tinkering necessary, right now. More depth on defense to help out Holgersson and Pearce should take precedence.

  26. lc1980 says:

    with all the money rsl has to spend I would love to see cooper at rsl with their style of play and saborio. I think he would thrive in salt lake and give rsl a great chance at winning mls cup next year.