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By IVES GALARCEP
The New York Red Bulls are well underway in the overhauling of their roster, with deals for Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave from Real Salt Lake and Kosuke Kimura from Portland expected to be announced in the coming days, but the biggest move they make could involve the trading of the team’s leading goal scorer in 2012.
Sources have told SBI that the Red Bulls are seriously considering trading Kenny Cooper, with a half-dozen teams currently expressing interest in the 18-goal striker. Cooper’s 2013 salary is believed to be in the $500,000 range, a hefty price to handle for a team already saddled with three Designated Players and the potential addition of Brazilian midfielder Juninho Pernambucano. (It should be noted Cooper’s deal is NOT a Designated Player deal, with the figure being a total that can be reached by buying down the number with allocation money to get it to the max non-DP salary limit of $400,000.)
The Red Bulls’ expected acquisition of Fabian Espindola gives the team a new strike partner for Thierry Henry, though the club would have to add another forward for depth if Cooper is dealt.
It might seem strange for the team to be wheeling and dealing without a coach in place, but sporting director Andy Roxburgh has turned to technical director Ricardo Campos to handle moves until a coach is hired. Campos, one of the few holdovers of the Erik Soler regime, has established himself as a trusted figure by the new leadership in New York and sources tell SBI that Campos was the architect behind the blockbuster deal with Real Salt Lake.
Among other issues facing the Red Bulls is Dax McCarty’s salary, which will see a considerable increase in 2013. He seems a safer bet to return next year after an outstanding 2012 season.
Dealing Cooper would help ease some of the team’s salary cap issues, and could potentially help offset the allocation money spent on acquiring Espindola and Olave.
So why not just keep Cooper? Despite his productive 2012 season, Cooper still never fully convinced the Red Bulls that he was the most effective strike partner for Henry. While that may have been the case, what Cooper did do in 2011 is convince other MLS teams that he was worth the investment, which is why a third of the league’s teams have made serious inquiries about Cooper.
What do you think about the Red Bulls trading Cooper? See it as a good idea? Would you want your team to pick up Cooper?
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