Jay Bell speaks with Kenny Cooper upon his return from Munich
Once upon a time Kenny Cooper was on a career path unlike any American player before him.
Young Kenny Cooper left America for Manchester United and later returned to star for his hometown team, FC Dallas. Ever a fringe player for the national team, Cooper departed from MLS in search of new challenges in Germany. Cooper began playing for TSV 1860 Munich in torrid form. He eventually cooled off before a string of injuries limited him to very little action over the last 16 months.
Now Cooper is on a path akin to another American forward, Charlie Davies. Both have returned to America to try to resurrect their club careers after injuries have taken them out of the game for the last 18 months. He joins one of the most ambitious teams in America and a rivalry unlike any other in MLS.
TSG was lucky to be able to talk with Kenny about his injuries, Portland, Dallas and getting back with the US national team right before the season.
Here’s the account:
TSG: What was your mindset when you transferred to Munich?
Kenny Cooper (KC): Well, at the time, I thought it was a great opportunity for me. Munich is a fantastic city and I was at a club that has an amazing history, a lot of tradition and a lot of fans. It was a great experience to be a part of 1860.
TSG: How did you feel about the string of injuries you encountered when you were there?
KC: I know injuries are part of the game. Obviously I would have liked to have played more than I did when I was over there, but I accept injuries as part of the game. Hopefully they are behind me now.
TSG: Do you feel like you pressed yourself too hard when you went on loan to Plymouth?
KC: I don’t know if I ever looked at it that way. At the time I think I may have felt it was the best thing for me to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to. Life goes on and I am here in Portland now and really happy to be here.
TSG: Do you think you learned anything about yourself or your game going to Europe?
KC: I said before that I know what it is like to play in your hometown and have a comfort zone with friends and family around, just be familiar with a lot of things around you. After moving to Germany, I also know what it is like to be a foreigner and to not know the main language.
I hope these different experiences, playing abroad and playing at home, I hope that they will help to make me a better player and a better person. Hopefully now I can relate better to all of my teammates in the future whether they are Portland natives or whether they are from out of the country and can’t speak English. Hopefully after living in Germany and playing in my hometown, I hope that I can better relate to all of my teammates.
TSG: What all went into the decision to return to MLS?
KC: Well, I spent 4 years in the league in my hometown, Dallas. I really enjoyed it. Its a great league, there is a lot of great quality in it and its a league that has grown and grown. Its a great opportunity to be a part of the Portland Timbers and their inaugural MLS season. I think it is a unique opportunity to be a part of a team’s first season in the league, but it is also a team that has history behind it and a lot of fans.
Its a really exciting time for the team and there is a real love for the game here in the city. Portland has embraced the game really well and they have embraced the team really well. As a player, it is really exciting to be a part of that.