Cooper moves on from his Texas roots
Portland Timbers striker Kenny Cooper came away with a win and a goal against his former club FC Dallas. But he was in no mood for gloating after the game.
The 6’3” striker was a constant menace to the Dallas defense, tussling with Hoops defender Brek Shea on the right before switching to the left in the second half and giving the visitors nightmares.
“I have a lot of respect for the Dallas coaching staff and the players,” the soft-spoken Cooper said in the locker room.
He was respectful, but very happy.
“That’s a good team we just faced, they were in the finals last year. They have last year’s coach of the year and last year’s MVP. It definitely feels good to walk away with a win.”
The respect was clearly mutual. As players traded handshakes before the kick off, several Dallas players gave Cooper hugs.
Once the game began though, Cooper was a muscular menace, stalking the Dallas half in his trademark white boots and white ankle socks. He linked up dangerously with Timbers midfielder Kalif Alhassan several times.
Asked whether he had any extra motivation to beat Dallas, he said no.
“I don’t know if there was extra motivation for playing against them. I was excited for this game like I am for any other one,” he said.
In the 35th minute he took his chance, looping a perfect header from a Jack Jewsbury corner over keeper Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and into the top left corner of the goal. Cooper tore across the pitch to head coach John Spencer and hugged him, lifting him from the turf. He explained later that he was just grateful for the faith Spencer has shown in him after a career that has been interrupted by injuries.
WATCH: Cooper's header past Hartman
At one point, midway through the second half, as he gained the ball on the wing, the North End burst into what sounded to the untrained ear like booing. It was in fact the adulatory cheering of his name, “Cooooooper!”
He was clearly as moved as anyone in the team by the vocal support from the Timbers fans.
“Hopefully we can show the same energy that our fans bring,” he said. He also gave props to his teammates.
“I certainly have a lot of confidence in the group, it’s such a confident and hard-working team, with a lot of quality too. Those qualities will take us a long way.”
It’s a long way from Texas to Portland, but Kenny Cooper knows the way forward.