Yeah, this is basically two half-articles. For a couple of reasons: 1) I wanted to talk about multiple things and 2) I have trouble focusing on one thing for longer than–hey are those waffles I smell?
Flew the Coop: the Seattle Sounders Release Kenny Cooper
Oh my god, they waived Kenny! MLS may be inadvertently imitating one of the most well-known recurring jokes in irreverent animation history, but to Cooper it’s not a joke. The 30-year old has played for 9 teams; 4 in the US (one of them twice), 3 in England, and 1 each in Germany and Portugal. The son of former goalkeeper Kenny Cooper Sr., he started off in the Manchester United academy, but didn’t break into the first team at Old Trafford.
Most of his success came at FC Dallas, the only team where the striker had multiple successful years. From 2006 to 2009, he scored 40 goals in 90 games for the spiritual successor of his dad’s Dallas Tornado, and after leaving for 1860 Munich (where he wasn’t that successful) he came back to the US; first to establish himself as a fan favorite with the Portland Timbers, and then to score 18 goals in a season with the Red Bulls–the best goalscorer that year who’s name doesn’t end with “ondolowski.” He then came back to FC Dallas…that didn’t go as well. Last year, he played with the Seattle Sounders, doing fairly good off the bench, but his play didn’t justify the cap hit, and he was released earlier this week (or last week, depending on when this gets published and what you consider as the end of one week and subsequent beginning of the next).
So, as I said, he’s no longer with the Sounders. I would say he’s a free agent, except that’s not entirely correct. He’ll go through some kind of waiver draft of sorts in part of the Calvinball-esque madness that is the MLS rules.
Who would want him? Anyone who wants a moderately good striker. In his MLS career, he’s averaged 0.44 goals per 90 minutes and 0.12 assists per 90 minutes. If he gets the equivalent of 30 games in minutes, and matches that average, it’s about 13 goals and 4 assists, a number that would put him in the top ten at goalscoring in every MLS season ever.
So, what’s the downside? Well, he is thirty, and he’s quite inconsistent. Also, there’s probably some reason why he’s been on so many teams–I doubt it’s a penchant for travel.
And if no one in MLS wants to pay his salary, he can do what fellow FC Dallas rejects alumni Eric Hassli and Adam Moffat did, and go to the NASL. The Montreal Impact allegedly wanted him, but that deal either broke down or never was going to happen to begin with. I’m really not sure (yeah, I’m the next Ives Galarcep).
Overall, though, I think Cooper is a good player. And more importantly (well, from a soccer aspect less importantly, but soccer isn’t everything) he seems like a great guy. Like, a terrifyingly nice person. So does Sebastian Le Toux (AKA Cooper putting on French accent). So, I’d like to see him do well. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Stay tuned!
Freddy in Finland: the Saga Goes On
If Freddy Adu was a TV show, and each of his clubs were seasons, he would have more seasons than Friends, and as many seasons as both Cheers and MAS*H. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be shocked if his next destination ends up being Korea.
While he’s fallen off the US soccer radar a bit, the former “bright young starlet” recklessly dubbed “the Next Pele” is still playing…kind of.
His most recent stint was Jagodina, in Serbia, where he played exactly 0 games. His stint before that was with Bahia, in Brazil, where he played just 2 games. His last games before that, and his last goal, were with the Philadelphia Union, way back in 2012. In the fast moving world of professional sports, that’s a long time ago.
Now, where is he? In the Finnish Veikkausliiga (their top league), playing for Kuopion Palloseura, which they somehow abbreviate to KuPS. It’s in the same league as YouTube trick-shot master Lassi Hurskainen. KuPS finished 7th, midtable, last season, and will begin play this season on the 12th of this month. It’s located in Kuopio, the 8th biggest city in the country located in Northern Savonia, and while it’s not that close to Russia, it wouldn’t hurt if it was a little further from Russia.
End of geography lesson. Fredua Koranteng Adu is on his 11th team in 8 countries (US, Portugal, France (technically Monaco), Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Serbia, and now Finland), and while that might seem impressive, it’s hardly that when you realize that he keeps switching clubs because he isn’t good enough.
The 25-year-old isn’t a bad player at all. There’s a reason he signed an MLS contract at 14, has 17 USMNT caps, and signed for Benfica only a couple months after his 18th birthday. The guy has talent galore (I chose that video because it says “may land Europe one day” in the description–the irony is that now he is in Europe, considered a flop. Not all “Europe” is Bayern Munich).
Most people would, as I alluded to, consider Freddy Adu a flop. That’s basically a slightly more whimsical way of calling him a failure. I guess it’s true, but, where do you draw the line? I mean, if you show someone videos of his skills (search on YouTube if you want more) and say this is a 25-year-old American, the reaction would be “huh, maybe this guy has a chance to be something. He’s a little old, but just look at Rickie Lambert!”
But when you add the expectations assigned to him by guys like me, then he’s almost unanimously a failure.
As I said, he has the skills. And he has the desire; he still wants to play for the US again. If he can get his head straight and come back to MLS (or even the NASL–he was previously linked to the Atlanta Silverbacks in my backyard), he can make something of himself.
Here’s something I wrote on Reddit The New York Times about Freddy Adu 8 months ago:
Freddy needs to pretend to join a monastery in the Himalayas, but in reality grow a beard, and go on trial with an NASL team as “Federico Alvarez.”
As Federico Alvarez, he will work his way from NASL bench player, to NASL starter, to NASL star, to MLS bench player, to MLS starter, to MLS star, and eventually to USMNT player.
When Alvarez scores the winning goal, as a super-sub, in the 2018 World Cup final, he shaves the beard, and takes his “Alvarez” shirt off to reveal an “Adu” shirt, thus shocking the world as he finally fulfills his potential.
Maybe, objectively, this isn’t the best idea, but you get my point: he needs to stop going after the European pipe-dream, and try to play soccer in the US, and make it that way. Wow, how many young American soccer players can use that advice? Too many. However, Finland does seem a little cooler than Stoke, I mean, it’s the nation that has the Air Guitar World Championships! In Oulu, specifically–not sure if I should feel proud or ashamed that I knew that before looking it up.
Either way, rock on, everyone. And rock on, Federico Alvarez.