Kenny Cooper: What is Bob Bradley Thinking?

Drawing Fouls and Creating Set Pieces: Eddie Johnson’s usefulness?

For weeks, maybe months now all the buzz seems to be about Kenny Cooper’s non selection to the National Team by Bob Bradley. I understand most in the blogosphere share my view that Cooper’s selection for the national team should have been automatic by this point. But here are I believe some issues that have swirled through Bob Bradley’s head to explain why Cooper has not been selected since the March 2007 friendly against Guatemala.

Again I do not share these views but here is Bob Bradley possible, rational thinking on the situation:

  • Kenny Cooper has been repeatedly injured when Bradley could have called him in for pre qualifying friendlies or last year’s Copa America.
  • Eddie Johnson who continues to get called into the side despite an awful goal scoring record over the past two and a half years is lightning quick and often draws fouls in dangerous areas. Given Bradley’s dependence on set pieces to generate scoring for the US, isn’t it better to have someone proven to draw fouls on the international level?
  • Cooper’s tendency to push wide in a rigid tactical formation that depends on the team keeping its shape is a no no at such a high level.
  • Cooper’s clinical finish against Denmark last year was aberration: perhaps in that training camp as well as the Ecuador/Guatemala camp last March he just did not stand out.
  • Cooper has not been part of the setup for the US at any major youth competition. As has been the case before both Bradley and Arena have been reluctant to call into camp a player who they have not seen in the system at a lower level.
  • Bradley simply wants to use a friendly or the January camp to re-evaluate players like Cooper, Marvell Wynne and Edson Buddle who have gone long periods without being called up to the full national side.

It is possible however that Bradley is simply biased towards and against certain players and Cooper has done something previously to upset the manager. Whatever the case, this issue is not going away until Cooper either gets called in or the US starts scoring boatloads of goals against respectable competition.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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7 Responses to Kenny Cooper: What is Bob Bradley Thinking?

  1. Phillip says:


    It’s the most difficult match of this round. Bob’s playing this one safe with players he knows what he’s going to get from them.

  2. Berlin says:

    An offense based exclusively on scoring from set pieces rather than in the run of play? All this time I’ve been mistaken, Bradley is a tactical and strategic genius. Why call in forwards who haven’t been trained under the national system when all they’ll try and do is score goals? We can call it the American style.

  3. Soccer Guru says:

    Kartik, this piece is obviously meant to be sarcastic. Honestly I am getting tired of you and your sidekick DD constantly claiming Bradley gets nothing right and claiming every choice he makes is wrong. This post is completely disrespectful of Bradley and our setup.

    Kenny Cooper is a nice MLS player but obviously Bradley has seen him in national team camp and determined he doesn’t have what it takes to be successful on the bigger stage. You must respect that and stop throwing stones at everything OUR coach does.

  4. Phillip says:

    I fully expect Cooper to be called in to the camp before the Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba games.

  5. kartik says:

    Soccer Guru, please. Bradley hasn’t seen him in camp for a year and a half! This post is not meant to be disrespectful: I’m sorry you view it that way. It’s simply points for discussion.

  6. eubh223 says:

    Yep, I have to agree with the other comments on this one.

    I’m a big Kenny Cooper fan (except when FCD is playing my Gals), but this isn’t the time to be experimenting with roster changes. There are a handful of players out there who merit another look, and I believe they will get that look under Bradley in this cycle… just not before we go to Guatemala in a WCQ.

    Edson Buddle and Chris Rolfe are also examples of this. Give BB time, he hasn’t steered us wrong yet (except for Copa America).

  7. chop says:


    Good brain food as usual. This is how I see things. As you stated, Cooper hasn’t been part of the US setup in a year and a half. Even then though it was the pre-MLS season callup of strictly MLS players (i.e, the annual January camp).

    Cooper undoubtedly has been on fire in MLS and his particular skill set is unique amongst similar players already ingrained in the National Team system. That being said, I think the entire crux of this situation (his non-inclusion) is simply that he hasn’t clocked any “field time” in the National Team camps. That can not be overlooked.

    It’s very rare for a non-capped or relatively small capped player to go straight into a WC qualifying team. Bradley is going with what he knows right now. You and I both agree that Cooper deserves to be there, but he doesn’t know the routine like EJ, Ching or even Twellman for that matter (not saying at all that I prefer TT over Cooper, I don’t).

    I think it’s as simple as that.

    This is match #3 in an 18 match process. He will get his time. If this was not a one-off game (and therefore the small amount of time for the team to be together) then I would be shocked not to see Cooper involved.

    If Cooper is overlooked for the Cuba-T&T combo next month, then something is definitely amiss. I would fully expect Cooper to be involved in a few weeks.

    It would be nice though if someone (Goff, I’m talking to you) down in Guatemala would simply ask about Cooper’s exclusion so far. As far as I can tell, no one has asked him yet. Seems a bit strange.

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