Over the course of 343 minutes, Kenny Cooper has put in six goals in his three starts with the New York Red Bulls – one coming as a late game substitution. He has accumulated 16 shots on the season (second on the team only to Henry), putting 11 on net and scoring on over half of his attempts.
The big American striker has also played a threatening role alongside his boyhood hero, Thierry Henry, becoming one half of the most dynamic forward partnership in Major League Soccer.
So why isn’t New York Red Bull Coach Hans Backe satisfied?
“(Cooper) is a massive guy – strong, tall. But I feel that he is still and has been too nice in 50/50’s. If he just starts using his body more, he’d be a handful for every team,” Backe noted after the Columbus match.
It isn’t the first time Backe has made the observation either. While the coach has been singing the praises of his forward tandem, he can’t help but wonder what a threat the 6’3″, 207lb. forward would be if he threw his weight around a little.
Cooper, who has always been known more for his footwork than his physical attributes, has certainly begun to turn the corner on that perception. The majority of his goals for Portland last season came off of header’s, and just this week, he used his size and strength to push off of two defenders en route to his first goal of the match against Columbus.
“It’s a massive away win, once again scoring four goals and our strikers scoring all of them. It’s phenomenal,” Backe said. Nevertheless, the coach wants, and expects, more from Cooper.