The New York Red Bulls made a huge splash on draft day with a brand new big man up top.
The Red Bulls swapped their 2013 first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft and allocation money on Thursday to Portland for US international Kenny Cooper, the hulking striker the Timbers trumpeted as the face of their franchise in their expansion MLS season in 2011.
"I want to thank Kenny for being a first class person and professional," Timbers owner Merritt Paulson tweeted on Thursday. "I wish him the best."
Cooper, 27, scored eight goals and added two assists in 34 appearances for the Timbers last season after returning from a career in Europe hampered by injuries. Portland scooped up the one-time MLS All-Star when he returned to the league last January, thrilled to have a player who leveraged 40 goals scored over four seasons with FC Dallas into a shot with German side 1860 Munich midway through the 2009 season.
But not all was rosy during Cooper’s stay in Portland, as rumors that the club was shopping him around surfaced and his production tapered off after scoring the club’s first-ever MLS goal and three total in the first seven games of the season. He was relegated to the bench for five consecutive games in July and struggled to find the back of the net until September, when he broke out for four goals in the team’s last seven games.
The move certainly provides at least some salary cap relief for the Timbers, and the Red Bulls land a proven striker who has scored 48 goals in 124 career regular season games. Cooper now joins a stable of forwards already considered one of the best in the league, with the strike pairing of Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers and US international phenom Juan Agudelo.
Agudelo, however, is expected to miss a chunk of the 2012 season while playing with the US Olympic team, and Henry will turn 35 years old in August. Rodgers, who broke out with nine goals and three assists in 2011, turned 30 years old earlier this month.
The Timbers landed the 31st pick in the draft in the trade.