Kenny Cooper came to Sounders FC with a tremendous MLS résumé. In the last two matches, he enhanced that CV a bit with an assist in a 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact and his first goal for Seattle on Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
Though it came in a losing effort, as Seattle couldn’t hold the early 1-0 lead after going down a man for the final half-hour against Columbus, it continues a strong start for Cooper in his new home in Seattle.
“It always feels good to score, whether it’s yourself or your teammate,” Cooper said after the match. “It’s one of the best feelings in the game. In front of these fans, obviously, it’s that much more special.”
Cooper has had that special feeling of scoring a goal 73 times in his MLS career, putting points on the board for FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls before coming to Seattle in an offseason trade. His goal on Saturday put him ahead of Juan Pablo Angel for 18th on the all-time scoring list, just three behind Steve Ralston and six behind Preki as he continues his ascent of the goal-scoring chart.
On the play, Seattle won the ball in the midfield and Obafemi Martins flicked it forward for Cooper up the left side. He carried the ball from midfield into the 18-yard box, gathered himself to force the defender to commit, then ripped the shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
“It was a great team build-up. Oba put me in so well and I’m just glad it ended up in the back of the net,” Cooper said. “I thought there was a lot of good energy throughout the team. Guys were so willing to get forward and also defend. I think we all have a lot of confidence in each other and in each other’s effort.”
Sounders FC is now 2-2-0 and will play the next three matches on the road, with the first two stops coming in Cooper’s old stomping grounds in Portland and Dallas. Although those two trips will be exciting for Cooper, as they will give him the chance to see old friends and teammates and salute the fans that have supported him throughout his career, the most important matter for the 29-year-old forward is the chance to pick up points on some Western Conference opponents for the first time in the 2014 season.
“It’s always enjoyable to see some old friends and familiar faces, but at the same time, it’s all business when you’re out there and that whistle blows,” Cooper said. “The games are just as important as any other game is to me.”
The first match comes on Saturday at Providence Park, where Cooper notched eight goals to lead the Timbers in Portland’s inaugural season in 2011. While Cooper’s prior time in the Rose City won’t play a factor, that rivalry certainly will, particularly coming off of a tough-to-swallow defeat at home against Columbus.
“It’s not hard to get motivated for the game this weekend. It’s a big one and we’re all aware of how much it means to our fans,” Cooper said. “It’s a game that everyone marks on their calendar so I don’t think it will be hard at all to get up for this weekend.”