Holding just one pick in the second round of Thursday’s MLS Super Draft, the Red Bulls somehow walked away the mover and shaker of the day. New York packaged allocation money and a 2013 first-round pick to acquire Kenny Cooper.
The addition of Cooper was a bit of a surprise, given that the Red Bulls feature star striker Thierry Henry, had a successful debut season from Luke Rodgers last year and are grooming 18-year old striker and national team player Juan Agudelo.
“We have a situation where we have Juan Agudelo who will play for the Olympic team. He’s going to be playing in qualifiers, he’s going to be away with the first National Team as it looks and also play for the Olympic team. So, he’s going to be away for a long time. We simply need to ensure that we don’t get in a situation where we have injuries and have no one to put up top,” sporting director Erik Soler said. “Kenny Cooper is a player that I tried to move out of the U.S. five years ago, to Rosenborg in Norway, when he went to 1860 Munich. I think he’s a good player that will suit us. He’s big; he’s not really a target man, but he’s good with his feet, he can move around and he can score goals. We scored a lot of goals last year and we’re going to try to score more goals this year.”
Picked to the season ending MLS Best XI in 2008, Cooper is a target forward who brings a 6-foot-3 frame to a Red Bulls team that lacked aerial prowess. The 27-year-old has had two rather unsuccessful stints in Europe and both times came back to MLS and found success. Last year, following a tenure in Germany, he starred for the expansion Portland Timbers where he had eight goals and two assists in 34 games.
Cooper has represented the national team 11 times and is the son of English goalkeeper Kenny Cooper, Sr. who was one of the most successful goalkeepers in North American Soccer League history.
Also on Thursday, the Red Bulls signed Swedish international center back Markus Holgersson, completing a long rumored move. They also selected Fordham goalkeeper Ryan Meara with the No. 31 pick in the draft.
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Follow Red Bulls beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.