March 24, 2011 MLS--The Cooper Effect: Striker Has A Habit Of Scoring Against Toronto FC (from Portland Timbers web site)

The Cooper Effect: Striker has a habit of scoring against Toronto FC
The Math: Last four games vs. Reds = 6 Goals
Thu, 03/24/2011
Brian Costello, Portland Timbers

To say that Kenny Cooper has a special affinity for Toronto FC would be an understatement. Going back to Cooper’s first run through in MLS while with FC Dallas, he has scored at least one goal against the Reds in the past four straight games.

He first struck with a brace at Toronto in August of 2008 with goals in the 81st and 91st minute giving FC Dallas the 2-0 victory. Two months later, he struck again with two goals, the second of which was a stoppage time game tying penalty kick in a 2-2 draw.

2009 brought just as friendly results and equally clutch goals. Cooper evened the score for Dallas with a 91st minute strike in April for a 1-1 tie on the road at BMO Field. A week later, Cooper capped things off against the Reds with a 92nd minute game winner in a 3-2 clash.

Four games. Six goals. All late game result-changing strikes.

While some may point to the forward having already tallying one goal this season in the 3-1 loss to Colorado Rapids last week and Toronto’s defense giving up four in their 4-2 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC as signs towards another goal friendly equation, Cooper remains sanguine about any deeper meaning behind his previous feasting on Toronto defenses.

“I'm not sure it means anything,” he said.

This Toronto team that we'll face this weekend may be a lot different than the ones I've personally faced in the past,” he added.

Toronto is in the midst of a formational restructuring with head coach Aron Winter implementing his Dutch-influenced possession heavy 4-3-3 lineup. Despite last week’s loss, they had 64% and of the possession in the match and *12 corner kick opportunities*. The end result may not have been what Winter wanted, but there were signs that his plan is taking shape.

For Cooper to break through this week, he’s going to have to crack the Reds’ backline which has been adjusting to the 4-3-3 flux as well. Toronto’s Adrian Cann played much of last season at centerback but was moved out to a wingback position against Vancouver and was unable to track back effectively having trouble with the Whitecaps’ Davide Chiumiento in the first half.

If the Portland wingbacks and midfield can get service to Cooper—and fellow striker Jorge Perlaza—and the two of them can maintain possession up top in the cold weather, then the chance to add to Cooper’s unique streak remains a real possibility.

Cooper though also opens the door for others to open their accounts, “I'm hoping and hungry for us as a team to go out there and get a win," he said.

Hopefully there's a lot of goals in this team.”

*error in article--it was Vancouver who had 12 cornerkick opportunities--Rocket Robin)

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