- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 19, 2008
- 4 Comments
- Bob Bradley, Kenny Cooper, US National Team
I’ve thought long and hard about this one. The reasons for and against Kenny Cooper being called up by Bob Bradley to the U.S. National team. For weeks months we’ve been begging and pleading to Bradley to include Cooper in his roster for various games or events, but each time we come up short. So why is that?
We know the reasons for are there. He scores and scores in bunches right now for his club FC Dallas. Bringing him on while he is hot seems like a wise idea.
Most will argue that he would be better utilized than Houston’s Brian Ching, who is a bit out of the same mold as Chicago’s Brian McBride. For some reason Bradley has been more keen on Ching than a larger and craftier Cooper. Plus with the lack of attacking options right now for the U.S. it makes sense to give him his due right?
Cooper scored on his U.S. debut, a 3-1 win over Denmark in January, 2007, and came on as a sub again two months later in a 0-0 tie against Guatemala at Pizza Hut Park. Even though Denmark isn’t exactly a world power in soccer, scoring a goal on the international scene is and should be enough.
But a broken leg limited him to 14 MLS games last season, so his exclusion from U.S. matches could be explained by the injury, even if he has fully recovered from it. But his impressive numbers this year would seem to have earned a call-up or two, at least.
You can use the broken leg excuse for last year and even part of this year but in the end the timing right now just sucks for Cooper. He has not spent an extended period in a U.S. training camp since January 2007 and, with only two full practices available before the Guatemala game, the opportunity to learn the system and acclimate to teammates for what promises to be an intense international match is extremely limited.
Cooper has not played in an international match in over 17 months, and yes you can blame Bradley for not providing the opportunity during that span, but the bottom line is that Cooper is unproven outside of MLS (please spare me from the Eddie Johnson cracks too, EJ is definitely more proven than Cooper at this point). Put it this way, we don’t know if Cooper is a Jason Kreis on the international stage or a Landon Donovan. We’d like to think the ladder but for now we just don’t know and I can understand Bradley for not trying to figure that out during World Cup qualifying or in a Gold Cup competition.
And if you think about tomorrow’s game in Guatemala, you never want to “test” out a guy that hasn’t been called up in almost two years in one of the toughest environments in your region. Bradley needs an experienced squad accustomed to playing in hostile environments against determined opponents. Now once it gets time for the Cuba game in Havana and the Trinidad and Tobago match in Chicago roll around, call him up then. I’d much rather see him get accilmated to the international scene again in Chicago or against a team like Cuba than in Guatemala.
Its always a tough call for someone like Bradley in these calls-up. Looking at the broad picture Cooper will get a call again sometime. Its just a matter of when and not if. We all just have to be patient, which isn’t that easy sometimes. We’d like to think that Bradley isn’t doing the right thing here by not calling Cooper up but I’m not as quick to point the blame at him.
What do you all think is keeping Cooper from getting the call? Is it poor timing? Or is it just all bad decisions on Bradley’s part?