July 21, 2012
SCORING WITH MR. COOPER
Red Bulls striker uses his head to break his scoring drought
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Kenny Cooper struck twice in 15 minutes for both of the Red Bulls' goals.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – The drought is over.
It had been six full matches since Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper scored in league play, a drought that ended on Saturday afternoon with his brace at Red Bull Arena in New York’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia. In the 43rd minute Cooper’s perfectly timed rise to head home a Connor Lade cross ended a goal-less streak of 625 minutes. Then in the 58th minute, Cooper again used his head to nod an effort past a helpless Zac MacMath for his second goal of the game.
“I think it’s always for strikers, there will be phases during a season where strikers don’t score in six, seven or eight weeks,” coach Hans Backe said. “But of course everyone knows that strikers are on the pitch to score or set up goals.”
“But of course, it is important for every striker to be the one scoring.”
Despite the loss of his scoring touch in recent weeks, Cooper buoyed by his hot start to the season still maintained his hold on second in the league’s goal scoring list. Now with 13 goals following his header against the Union, Cooper is hopeful that the end of the drought is the beginning of scoring streak.
He says he never lost confidence in his scoring ability.
“I think it is important to always stay positive. I have so many quality teammates around me and I have so much confidence in them,” Cooper said. “You see today the opportunities that they’re able to create for me and the two finishes were just yards outside the goal and you see the great quality in the pass. I am just happy I didn’t mess it up for them.”
With Cooper seemingly in form, the Red Bulls attack is now dangerous again. New addition Sebastian Le Toux scored last Sunday in his debut with the team and Thierry Henry was the lone scorer in the midweek win over Chicago. Now with Cooper’s brace, the Red Bulls goals are coming from everywhere.
“He’s tall and big and he’s pretty fit so he can play up front and come back for the midfield when he needs to do it. You see today he scored two great headers,” Le Toux said.
“I scored the first game this week then Thierry scored against Chicago and now it is Kenny – it is great for the mentality of the group and everyone is bringing something.”
It was an emotional day for Cooper as the Red Bulls paid tribute to the life of Jack Reyna, the son of former Red Bulls midfielder Claudio Reyna. This past week, Jack lost his battle with cancer and Cooper, who admires Claudio greatly, was moved along with much of the crowd.
“After the goal, I wanted to pay tribute to Claudio’s son," Cooper said. "Claudio has been a personal hero of mine. He’s been so important to U.S. Soccer and also the team here in New York. It’s obviously an incredibly sad situation. I wanted to pay tribute to his son and hopefully we were able to honor him and their family with our hard-working performance today.”