HYNDMAN SAYS COOPER STAYING Coach told to count on star striker
By Phil Stephens Editor DallasSoccerNews.com
FCD coach Schellas Hyndman is confident he can lift the team to a new level. He said the club told him to count on striker Kenny Cooper, right. Defender Drew Moor, center, has a new contract.
Photo by Michael Stephens
FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman went to South America after the 2008 failed season, determined to find a few missing pieces that he could bring back to Frisco and help take the team to the next level, certainly to the playoffs and hopefully to the MLS championship. But Hyndman said the first issue that must be resolved is Kenny Cooper’s address in 2009.
Now Hyndman said the club front office has told him to count on Cooper for next season.
“I believe we will have Kenny for this year,” Hyndman said. When asked to provide more details, Hyndman just said, “All I know, we got an O.K. to count on Kenny for the season.”
It was clear during the season and after, that the issue over Cooper’s status with the club was a big distraction for Hyndman. The coach is a big fan of the star forward and that is easy to understand after he scored 18 goals last season. Hyndman made it clear he wanted Cooper as a cornerstone of the team. But even more, he wanted the club and the player to finally settle the issue.
Hyndman was looking for an experienced, athletic central defender, a strong attacking midfielder and a solid left sided midfielder. He said he is also confident that holding midfielder Pablo Richetti will be on the team, despite the player’s misgivings about his contract.
He said he found available players he wanted after spending time with River Plate in Argentina and Clube Atletico Paranaense (CAP) in Brazil, as well as a lot of time reviewing available players in the MLS available via trade, or otherwise. But the emphasis of his player pursuits would be quite different if he had to replace Cooper as well.
Settling Cooper’s contract, a player considered the face of the franchise, will also signal the time for more serious negotiations with other players. The same goes for Pablo Richetti’s contract, on whether there will or won’t be any renegotiation with Richetti. Once these key assets are nailed down, the club can earnestly negotiate for new players.
The unanswered questions about the 2009 FC Dallas lineup should begin to shape over in this first month of the year, as the club continues to negotiate with the players Hyndman has identified. The MLS Super Draft will also come in January, right after the MLS Combine. The FCD coach will be there, assessing talent, but is relying for more veteran help to help push his team higher in the MLS pecking order. There are already a lot of young Dallas players with the potential to step up to another level next season.
And as long as there is no official word or a signed renegotiated contract, there will be questions lingering over Cooper’s status.
No official word on this has come from the club or from the Cooper camp. Cooper Sr. reminded that agent Lyle York does the negotiating with the club, not Cooper Sr., who used to be his son’s representative and advisor on salary matters.
But the elder Cooper did say he understood that the club and York had been talking and some progress had been made. He expected a more definitive announcement to be forthcoming in the near future. While multiple foreign clubs are still quite interested in the 6-3 striker, global economic pressures may have relieved potential suitors of some of their bottom-line ability when it comes to transfer fees and salaries.
“We are good to go whatever happens,” the former NASL player, MISL coach and Baltimore team executive said. “European teams have already set Kenny’s value in the market place last summer,” he said, “and FC Dallas decided to turn those offers (believed to be in the neighborhood of $3 million) down. I think it is clear FC Dallas wanted more money than that. I also think they have seen his value to the home team more clearly.”
If agent York and the club come to a signed agreement for a contract extension and raise, Cooper is dedicated to help the team reach its goal of an MLS championship. If negotiations take another turn and contract offers from European teams become so lucrative that Dallas and the MLS feel they must take advantage, the Cooper clan will be ready to take advantage of that scenario. Playing for what the market value has determined as your true worth would be much more lucrative than the $89,000 salary Cooper currently is paid by FCD. Cooper has always said eventually returning to Europe is one of the steps he has made as a career goal.
But if York and the club cannot come to an agreement and the club doesn’t want to accept any offers they will get in January from European clubs, Cooper said Kenny Jr. would play out the remaining two years on his contract and give 100 percent effort on the field, still striving for MLS gold. But it would also mean there would be no intention of resigning with Dallas after his obligation is over.
Meanwhile, Hyndman and company are counting on Cooper and trying to assemble the new-look FCD to start coming together in training camp in mid-January.
Of course, that will be without the striker, who has just been named to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp roster that will convene Jan. 4 in California. That will tie the forward up about three weeks, unless he is also asked to return for the World Cup Qualifying game in February against Mexico.
That would not be too big of a problem since Cooper has already shown what he can do in an FC Dallas kit. Cooper has also shown what he can do off the field, with endorsement deals with adidas, PureSport, Verizon and SOCCER INNOVATIONS, including some yet unannounced but pending new endorsements.
Right now, Hyndman is counting on him as the big quiver in Dallas’ firepower. He is also counting on his club to find the resources to sign the new players he has brought to their attention. That definitely remains to be seen, but will have a direct bearing on Hyndman’s ability to bring his vision for an MLS elite team to life.