Soler offers reasoning on Cooper trade

Cooper (Getty Images)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The New York Red Bulls turned some heads by trading a 2013 first-round pick and allocation money to the Portland Timbers for veteran striker Kenny Cooper, a move intriguing for a number of reasons, none more than the fact that New York already has a full stable of first-team strikers in Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Juan Agudelo.

Despite the transaction fueling speculation that Agudelo may be hitting the transfer market, Red Bulls sporting director Erik Soler offered a staunch denial that the club was shopping the 19-year-old forward.

"No we're not," Soler told reporters at the MLS SuperDraft. "There's been interest in Juan ever since I came here. There's a lot of clubs that want him, and at some stage he'll probably go abroad, but I think the time isn't there yet."

Instead, Soler gave simple reasoning for making the move: Agudelo will be busy with international duties this year, Rodgers' U.S. work visa has not yet been renewed and the club did not want to be left short-handed at the position.

"We have a situation where we have Juan Agudelo where he will play for the Olympic team, he's going to be playing qualifiers, he's going to be away with the (senior) national team the way it looks, so he's going to be away for a long time," Soler said. "We simply need to ensure that we don't get into a situation where we have injuries and have no one to put up top."

Rodgers' situation should work itself out, Soler said, but the club does not know for sure yet whether his visa will be renewed, and until it does, it cannot take his place in the lineup for granted. He expects to have a resolution within the next three weeks.

"We have to be open to the fact that Luke Rodgers had a one-year visa and that visa isn't renewed at this very moment," Soler said. "We think it will be, but it's not for sure.

"We think there's a good chance, but he had the (criminal) record before he came. He's been absolutely fantastic when he's been here. There's no reason we think not to have the visa, but still it's not on our table and we don't want to take any risk."  

Soler added that he is confident in Cooper being able to contribute in New York, despite his inconsistent play for Portland last season. Cooper is a player that has long been on Soler's radar, and years after initially chasing him, the former U.S. national team striker is now on his roster.

"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," Soler said. "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." 

The Cooper acquisition was the second of the day for the Red Bulls, who officially announced the addition of Swedish centerback Markus Holgersson as well. While Holgersson should provide cover if Tim Ream's proposed move to Bolton goes through, he might not be the only answer at the position. Soler said another contingency plan is in place if Ream bolts to England. 

"We should have an announcement on that coming up should Tim leave," Soler said.

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68 Responses to Soler offers reasoning on Cooper trade

  1. Aquaman says:

    I thought it was going to read “We’re going to play a 3-3-4. Goal galore at both ends!”

  2. Gnarls says:

    Rabble rabble rabble!!!

    That actually makes a lot of sense.

  3. Thankfully the Olympics is such a well known sports event that even Soler would know about it.

  4. Chris says:

    Don’t believe anything Soler says about Red Bull not shopping Agudelo. He also said Henry wouldn’t go on loan and Ream wouldn’t be sold.

  5. Hopefully Rodgers doesn’t come back

  6. Poo says:

    maybe they think rogers is causing some mischief on his holiday at home, and wont be allowed back in!

  7. Dakota Sillyman says:

    Red bull… sighhh
    I wish Agudelo was at a place like Salt Lake where he could develop under a guy like Kreis, who’s done well with Gil.

  8. Addage says:

    Normally I give management the benefit of a doubt because their task is difficult. However, the Red Bulls seem extremely rigid in their approach to players.

    If Ream and Agudelo go, what is there for an American fan to like?

  9. mullet says:

    Why?? He’s a hero to some of us.

  10. T$ says:

    Cooper > Agudelo .

  11. jlm says:

    the part about cooper being good with his feet?

  12. Ken says:

    to be fair he also said we would be bring in some Americans playing abroad and a physical centerback and that happened. Everyone has their price in the MLS and if the Ream numbers are true, its the highest fee MLS ever received for a defender so i don’t know how you would decide to say no to that.

  13. Agreed. At the club and international level.

  14. chuck G says:

    Red Bulls are not shopping Agudelo…..
    Henry is not going on loan
    Tim Ream isn’t leaving
    and Red Bulls care about the fans.
    Anyone want to buy a bridge?

  15. Jamie Z. says:

    If by “>”, you mean “taller”, I agree.

  16. Al says:

    Agudelo>Cooper. Cooper is a bundesliga 2. reject who failed miserabley with the USMNT. Agudelo is a promising young kid with more potential then Cooper ever had

  17. Jamie Z. says:

    Your bridge offer intrigues me. Please tell me more.

  18. Mark says:

    There are a bunch of posters on this site who thought Cooper was the answer for the Nats only 18 months ago. He may no longer be the flavor of the moment, but he is talented, just not the sort of player you expect when you see someone with his size. He was injured quite a bit while abroad, so to cast him as a failure is harsh. Did he meet expectations, certainly not, but it wasn’t because he can’t play.

    Having said that, I want to see Agudelo play here in Red Bull Arena, so I’m hoping he gets his act together in training and forces Backe to play him like he did in 2010 once he got back from international duty with his fantastic performance in training.

    I wonder if Corey Hertzog needs a hug right now…

  19. b says:

    LOL. That was Backe who didn’t know about the Gold Cup.

  20. Steve McSteve says:

    How about Cooper?

    He’s got more international goals for the US (4) than Agudelo (2).

    There’s also McCarty, Keel, Hertzog, Borrajo and the homegrown players (Hot, Lade, Kassel)

  21. Tony in Quakeland says:

    I think Cooper is much less than meets the eye. Take the year he scored 18 goals. he had (without checking) something like 118 SHOTS, about 60 on goal and 2 or 3 assists. He has one of the highest shots to goals ratios around, and I doubt his MLS career total for assists is over 10 or 12.

    What this suggests is a player who is greedy with the ball, who does not link with his team mates and has poor decision making. (Poor because of so many failed shots.) I’d bet anything if you compared Rodgers and Cooper last year, you will see similar goals, slightly more assists for Rodgers and far fewer shots for Rodgers. In other words, a far more productive player.

    Add to it that he is 7 foot 2 inches tall and generally does not like the ball at his head – preferring to dribble at people, which he does fairly well – shows even more how he takes teammates out of the game.

    Finally, wanting cover for Rodgers and Agudelo makes perfect sense…but not THIS guy at THIS price. In this as in all things MLS, ask yourself if you could see Bruce Arena or Siggy Schmidt making this trade. Look at how cheaply (yes, cheaply outside of Roy Keane) the Galaxy and especially the Sounders improved their teams last year. Thinking you had to pay this price, for this guy (especially with the Red Bulls’ resources) is the height of ineptitude.

    Maybe Cooper will score ten for Red Bulls. But it will come at the expense of opportunities for Henry and the midfielders who are very likely to score less

  22. GW says:

    Cooper’s issues with Bundesliga 2 may have more to do with his injuries.

    “failed miserabley with the USMNT”

    He has 4 goals in 10 games. He may not be a good fit for the USMNT but he’s hardly a miserable failure.

    Agudelo does have more potential. So what? What if he never achieves it? What if he never pans out? He has looked worse and worse for the US after a bright start.

    He won’t be the first bright star to fade quickly. Remember EJ?

  23. GW says:

    Your logic is flawed. It is possible he took so many shots because he was the focus of the Dallas offense and many missed because, well many shots do miss in soccer. This isn’t basketball. Cooper is not a QB trying to complete a pass. You are using too many US sports comparisons.

    What the shots issue suggest is he is a position to take them. It also suggests he has a scorer’s mentality which is inherently selfish. Scoring goals requires that and if you are afraid to shoot, and many players are, then you certainly won’t score.

    Ask Klinsmann. When he played he took very half chance he got no matter how iffy.

    I won’t argue Rogers may be more efective but the whole idea is he may not be around so the comparison is pointless.


  24. wilyboy says:

    DC’s encore: Kurt Morsink and TWO shiny allocation pennies for Agudelo. Hell, we’ll even throw in a raccoon to sweeten the pot.

    (take it, take it!…)

  25. Tony in Quakeland says:

    far from being flawed, I was actually too nice. I don’t have the numbers to demonstrate it, but cooper has a significant number of garbage time goals. He is, as I said, far, far less than meets the eye.

    Compare his best year to Landon Donovan the same year, shots, shots on goals, goals, assists.

    Cooper: 118/60/18/3
    Donovan: 65/40/20/9

    Donovan took as many shots total, as Cooper had shots on goal. Think about that when you argue that Cooper “got in position”. It suggests a guy who shoots regardless. Donovan had three times the assists (in 5 fewer games) showing a far greater ability to bring teams into the game. This translated into the teams as well: that year the galaxy had 10 more goals on fewer shots. The comparison is a bit random, but it has meaning in that both teams missed the playoffs and are comparable in that at least.

    Yes, I think Cooper is borderline useless. But what you don’t address in claiming my logic is flawed is that value for the money/draft pick. Again, look at players Seatlle has found recently (Rosales, Frendndez) for one. And what about guys found through the draft like Bunbury or Nagbe. This was really the best they could do? I’m pissed AND I’M NOT EVEN A RED BULL FAN!

    This is a garbage move by an inept franchise.

  26. Baal says:

    Desperation move. I don’t want to watch Cooper on the team. Losing interest… When does Rafa go? Another hot head.

  27. GW says:

    Your logic is flawed.

    Players have very little individual control over when exactly a goal is scored and if it’s a garbage time, are you suggesting he should have passed up the opportunity because the game was out of reach or well in hand? That’s insane.

    I’ll agree with you that if NYRB had to choose between Donovan and Cooper then, yes you take Donovan. Was there a doubt on that?

    Cooper: 118/60/18/3

    Donovan: 65/40/20/9

    Donovan took as many shots total, as Cooper had shots on goal.”

    So? Donovan is an attacking midfielder. Cooper is a striker, whose sole job is to score. Cooper is supposed to shoot more than Donovan.

    Those stats don’t tell us if Cooper, as a striker was often shooting while covered, while Donovan, as a midfielder, may have had a bit more space shooting from further out.

    “It suggests a guy who shoots regardless. ”

    Are you suggesting that if Cooper had not taken as many shots and had, instead passed the ball, that his teamates would have done better with the ball?

    Because there is no way to know that.

    And they kept giving it to him. If that was such a bad idea I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t keep doing it.

    Cooper does only one thing well, score. Prior to his move to Germany he did that at a ridiculous rate. But it comes with a price. It’s why guys like him and Gomez and Inzaghi have up and down careers; when they are hot it’s great when they are not it’s awful.

    You know that going in with those guys,

    You don’t whine about what he can’t do. You play him for what he can do or you don’t play him.

  28. b says:

    “more crappy than”

  29. VADCUfan says:

    +100, maybe they want the rights to Da Luz back as well. I’m sure a package deal for some cheap “depth” would be just what the brain trust at RBNY is looking for. 😉

  30. Bandito says:

    I guess Portland is going to really be awesome next year. Every time Cooper leaves a team they mysteriously are substantially better.

  31. TomG says:

    Coop is the classic big man who plays small while Agudelo is potentially a future superstar with excellent speed, skills, and work rate.

  32. Eugene says:

    I AM a Red Bulls fan and I am super happy with this acquisition. It’s actually quite clever in giving us a veteran goalscorer, depth at the position, a good technical player, and the 2nd big man today when last season we were weak on defending and scoring from set pieces.

    For most who didn’t watch NY last season, when Rodgers went down with injury the team had a long offensive drought and circulated people up top. Now we’ve got that base covered with a solid player.

    I also don’t understand the Agudelo vs. Cooper discussion when they will be teammates competing for minutes. Ultimately, Agudelo will be sold to a European team just like what Jozy being transferred. While it’s a bummer to see these talented guys go, I think it’s wise that Soler transfers them, gets the money and reinvests that into the club. If Ream’s transfer means we can afford another good centerback and keep Frank Rost in goal, that’s a good deal.

    I would like to see this team pick up Frank Lampard as a 3rd DP and attacking midfielder, and if possible pick up Wilman Conde as a centerback to replace Ream (or play left back if they need to move people around).

  33. Eugene says:

    And if Austin Da Luz was available to get back on the cheap, I’d take him in a heartbeat.

  34. Tommy Mac says:

    > must mean, “unlike agudelo (and Henry and Ream) who have no respect for Soler/Backe and who would literally do anything to get away from the NYRB circus….Cooper has not yet experienced a training session with Backe or extended conversation with Soler so he does not know better.”. On another note, I’m Holding my breath for the next big Scandanavian signing that brings the farms back…

  35. Matt says:

    I saw on Twitter that the Red Bull are trading for Conde from Chicago. Apparently he wants to play for Red Bull.

  36. Tommy Mac says:

    That would be “fans”‘, although there may be as many farms as fans in red bull arena next season at this rate. Anybody else hear that NYRB management were the only ones NOT at the MLS combine on day 1? What a train wreck. If I was MLS I would be seriously concerned….

  37. Eugene says:

    Conde’s wikipedia page already has him at NY Red Bulls

  38. gas huffer says:

    That was an erroneous report. There were reps from NY there.

    (SBI-Nothing erroneous about it. The entire RBNY technical staffed showed up AFTER day one, on Friday night, a full day after all the other teams in the league. As for Hans Backe, he never showed up at the Combine or the MLS Draft for that matter.)

  39. nic d "the TX 2 Stepper" says:


    Raise your standards.

  40. Jenks says:

    And for a crappy defender like that, take the money and bring in a big-name DP for the midfield.

  41. Glen B says:

    Rodgers was great, but he and Henry are injury-prone. You need more depth. This is a nice move if they can bring in a DP playmaker to feed the Strikers.

  42. Polish Pete says:

    All this hate here is basically jealousy ……RB today became a stronger team…Juan has a great talent , but is lazy in practice.Just bc you play for nat dosnt mean you have to be a starter .Cooper gives us more flexibility and let players rest,there was time last season that we had to conver Dane to a striker. Some ppl call for Hertzog to play , he is slow and apparently not experience enough. If Juan is stays beyond this transfer window , we will have main contributors back with the team,plus we are addressing all areas that were lacking last season. Only if we can sell Rafa , it would be perfect. As of now we have 1 DP spot available ,with allot of money in allocation and free international spots( Rooney,Robinson and poullo were all int’l ands didn’t play) .as long as the team gels we will be good.

    This how our startin 11 could look like as of today
    Miller (leahn)ream(keel) Conde holdergsson(bourjes)
    Lindpier (nielsen)Taino (macarty)Marquez(balluchy) Richards ( solli)
    Henry ( aguadelo) Rodgers ( Cooper)

    Then you have young players such as Meara,hot,Kassel
    I might made some errors with names of new players bc they new

    So as of now things go right direction in my opinion

  43. Burt says:

    Ream is not a good centerback and Rost is done. Agudelo is simply not there yet. A depth move was necessary.

    Lampard and Conde would be terrific. Time to upgrade.

  44. mullet says:

    he is a hero because he gave a 100% every game he has scored some awesome goals and has not never backed down to anyone on the field.

  45. Flo says:

    Tainio and Marquez is one D-Mid 2 many in the midfield. Tainio shouldn’t be a starter unless Marquez plays the backline.

    RB now just lacks that DP playmaker to ignite the spark on offense.

  46. Chuck says:

    KFC was great with FCD. If he can regain that form, NY will be formidable.

  47. jordan says:

    reamed blows

  48. Dabull says:

    Why would they want cover for Agudelo? He never plays for NYRB.

  49. Bill says:

    He didn’t produce when he played last season…he is still very young though. NY was a different team when Rodgers went down.

  50. Yuri says:

    very good for big man…his movement off the ball is good also

  51. B Colby says:

    and won the Emirates Cup

  52. Adi says:

    There are very few tall strikers that are very good mainly because they are not as aguile and can’t play the ball very well. Cooper is similar and Portland is very lucky they got rid of him. Another example, is Gomez who may shoot many goals in the Bundesliga but on the German national team just about always gets outclassed by Klose.

  53. Tommy Mac says:

    Thank you Mr Soler…I mean “gus”. Just like the other erroneous reports about current NYRB – DeRo not being notified of his trade by any senior management, Ream being handed a “contract extension” by Soler on a team bus, Henry fighting with Backe in the locker room, etc etc – are also untrue. Oh yeah, and Erik Soler didn’t lead IK Start into relegation and near bankruptcy in Norway… Sad thing is this train has also already wrecked.

  54. chris says:

    That raccoon sounds interesting. Anybody know a restaurant in the Ironbound that does feijoadacoon?

  55. Johnny Ramone says:

    Clearly you have an agenda, Sir. You may be able to get a job working at SBI if this keeps up.

  56. Dax says:

    Hasn’t Backe stated publicly on more than one occasion that he doesn’t consider Juan Agudelo a striker, and that his future with RBNY will be on the wing?

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see RBNY trade Agudelo in 2012. Perhaps he is MLS’s solution to Chinggate:

    MON: Agudelo
    HOU: Ching
    RBNY: allocation $

  57. dan says:

    Where the hell do they get the money for this?




    If they can get rid of Marquez then they can buy Ballack for that mid and really solidify it

  58. Neruda says:

    Start the Agudelo to salt lake rumors. That would be awesome.

  59. McCarty says:

    As a college student who group up 5 minutes from Harrison and now goes to college in Montreal.

    I love love love that idea, as long as Agudelo would get time. Agudelo and Braun could work very well together.

  60. McCarty says:

    group = grew. whoops

  61. Joamiq says:

    This explanation still doesn’t make any sense. Or rather, it justifies an acquisition, but not Cooper. Why would you take on such a big salary and give up that much allocation money for a guy who is 4th on the depth chart at forward? Even if you expect him to get minutes, your resources are limited and you have needs elsewhere. We still don’t have an answer at GK, we have no cover anywhere along the backline, and all we have off the bench in midfield are Ballouchy and McCarty, neither of whom is particularly inspiring. In light of all that, again, why give up so much for a 4th striker? You’d be much better off getting a lesser forward and spending some of that precious cap space elsewhere.

    If Soler has some kind of plan that will plug all of these holes under the salary cap, then OK. But if we start the season without a complete squad with an expensive 4th striker sitting on the bench, I’m going to be pissed.

  62. Joamiq says:

    I agree that the Red Bulls play much better with Rodgers, but Agudelo scored 6 goals with only 12 starts. That’s not bad.

  63. Joamiq says:

    Agudelo scored 2 fewer goals than Cooper last year… in 1200 fewer minutes.

  64. Johnny Ramone says:

    That is the the singlemost ridiculous comment not posted by a Sounders fan. Why would RBNY goalong with that when they can sell him abroad for more money & keep him from playing against them. If he’s in the US, he’s at RBNY.

  65. Timber Jim says:

    You will find that Cooper’s foot skills are about one-quarter as good as he thinks they are. He’s incredibly frustrating to watch as he tries to dribble by players, losing the ball over and over.

    And his movement off the ball is good, just aimless.

    I’m so happy you think he brings good value. I’m laughing all the way to Jeld-Wen Field.

  66. Tommy Mac says:

    I do indeed have an agenda (as a season ticket holder last year that gave it up this year, and as a Jersey soccer player my entire life)….to have a quality franchise in NY. But please argue any of my points if you are able to defend Soler and Backe, I would love to hear some defensible arguments. Perhaps the Ream contract, Henry dissent, and IK Start disaster are not worthy of posts on this board?? On a separate note, I agreed with Ive’s rankings of the MLS Draft on Fox Sports….NYRB dead last. DISGRACE TO ALL PROUD METROS FANS.

  67. todd says:

    Never believe anything Soler says about a player. He and he coach have no credibility. He planned on keeping Kandji and Tchani and all the others too. The Red Bulls will never win more than they lose until Soler and Backe are fired.