Cooper ready for new challenge with Sounders

A bit of a journeyman in recent years, the big forward is ready to settle down and stay in Seattle for years to come.

Kenny Cooper scores goals.

Check his résumé and that’s easy to see, as the 29-year-old striker has had double-digit scoring seasons in three of his seven MLS seasons. Few have put the ball in the back of the net better than Cooper since he first came to MLS in 2006, making him an attractive addition to Sounders FC after signing with Seattle on Thursday, just under a week after he was traded from FC Dallas.

“I’ve been fortunate the last couple of years with and alongside some great players, and I’m coming in to a team that also a lot of talent in the attack, but also in the back,” said Cooper who came in a deal with allocation money for Adam Moffat. “The team has picked up some fantastic players in Stefan Frei and Chad Marshall, so I’m looking forward to the group that I’ll play with this year.”

Cooper didn’t waste any time establishing himself when he signed in 2006 with Dallas, the city where his father played goalkeeper for 10 seasons in the 70s with the Dallas Tornado in the North American Soccer League. He scored in his debut for FCD and went on to score 11 goals to finish tied for sixth in the league.

In his first four seasons, he played 90 matches for Dallas, tallying 40 goals before heading to Germany to play with second-division 1860 Munich. There he saw limited time and after 18 months returned to the states to play with the expansion Timbers. With expectations high, Cooper notched eight goals, but was traded to New York after the season to make way for Kris Boyd, who also lasted just one season in Portland. With the Red Bulls, he exploded for 18 goals, matching his career-high set in his MLS Best XI season in 2008.

Last season, he went back to Dallas and had six goals, second on the team behind Blas Perez.

In total, his 72 tallies since 2006 rank fourth in the league behind Landon Donovan (90), Chris Wondolowski (79) and Dwayne De Rosario (76). Including Cooper, only eight players in the league have had seasons of 18 goals or more since 2006, and only one other player, Wondolowski, has reached that total twice.

Joining a strike force that also includes Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, as well as the emerging Lamar Neagle, Cooper could be a versatile fit in Seattle.

“I’ve had experience playing in various roles. I’m comfortable playing different positions and, at the end of the day, want the coach to feel comfortable putting me wherever it is he thinks is best,” Cooper said. “I’m an attacking forward player, so my hope is to come in and contribute to the scoring and help create goals for the team.”

With that versatility also comes a firm understanding that scoring goals won’t be his sole responsibility.

“I’ll help contribute on both sides of the ball,” Cooper said. “As a forward, you understand the expectation to score goals and create them, so obviously a desire to that from my part. Also, putting in an honest effort every day and in every game and look to give the team my best every day.”

Cooper was always excited to see a match at CenturyLink Field on the schedule. Now, after playing three matches three as a visitor, he can look forward to having the fans supporting him rather than rooting against him.

“Everyone gets excited to play because you know whenever you come, the seats are going to be not only filled, but filled with fans who are going to supporting their team in a great way,” Cooper said. “It’s always an amazing atmosphere. I think everyone dreams of playing in that type of atmosphere and we’re so fortunate now that in this league, Seattle provides such a great place to play. Obviously, for the players in Seattle it’s a great experience, I can imagine, to play home games in front of them. From my experience being a player on the away team, I think it’s a game that everybody looks forward to experiencing that fan culture.”

The 29-year-old will join his Sounders FC teammates in Seattle when training camp opens on January 25.

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