MLS Transfer Rumors: Could D.C. United Trade for Kenny Cooper?

Kenny Cooper is rumored to be on the trading block. Could he find himself suiting up for the Black-and-Red?

Somewhat strangely, that's what I find myself thinking about after rumors have surfaced that Kenny Cooper, the big Portland Timbers and former FC Dallas striker, could be on the trading block. Given what D.C. United have to offer, their relative lack of size and depth up top (especially given recent injuries), and their recent proclivity for roster moves, SB Nation's Jeremiah Oshan thinks Our Fair City is the most likely destination for Cooper:

This would mark a return to Cooper's youngest days when he grew up in Baltimore. United has two quality forwards in Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies, but they play pretty similar styles. Bringing in someone like Cooper could really give them a more varied attack. They also have some pieces they could move, guys like Dejan Jakovic a high-salaried player that has apparently lost his job to two younger, cheaper players. Neither player is performing up to their salary right now and a change of scenery could be good for both. Odds: 5:1.

Oshan makes some interesting points, not all of which I agree with. Jump with me, and we'll break it down a bit further, looking at the possibilities and desirability of a United trade for the Super Cooper.

Would D.C. United want Kenny Cooper? This is a pretty simple "yes." If United could get Cooper at no cost, he'd obviously be a good addition to any MLS team. Cooper has size, ambition, aggressiveness and finishing ability that put him among the best strikers in the league when he's in form. Although I'd dispute Oshan's characterization that Davies and Wolff play too similarly together - Davies has always been a "run in behind" striker, while Wolff increasingly takes up a more withdrawn role (if anything, Cooper and Wolff have similar tactical styles) - but he's right that Cooper does represent something different. He'd provide an aerial presence United currently lacks on the front line, adding another dimension not just to set plays (where we have Ethan White and Brandon McDonald) but to the run of play, as well. As importantly, he'd provide depth to the concussion-riddled United everything attack. Also remember that Davies is here on a one-year loan, which will expire at the end of the year; whether he comes back is very much an open question.

In any event, unless you're trading partner is the Red Bulls, your chances of getting something for (virtually) nothing aren't very good. (Sorry, had to get in an Austin Da Luz joke at their expense.) So we have to ask...

What would United have to give up for Cooper? This is always what it comes down to, isn't it? If you're trading away allocation money for a starter or six months of an international slot for promising young depth in a spot of need, you can't go wrong. But trading away real building blocks is always tricky. Oshan suggests that Cooper could be had for Josh Wolff and Dejan Jakovic (possibly one or the other). Both would, without a doubt, be too high a price to pay. Jakovic is returning from injury and whether he starts or not, he represents sorely needed depth on the backline, which means Perry Kitchen and Clyde Simms can stay in their current positions instead of covering at center-back. Given the narrow difference between a keeping clean sheet and shipping four goals, I'm not sure I'd make a Jakovic-for-Cooper trade straight up right now. Similarly, I'm not sold on a straight-up Wolff for Cooper trade. On the year, Cooper's found the net 3 times; Wolff's got 4 goals. Cooper's got just 1 assist in 2011 to Wolff's team-leading 5. Cooper's a big, sexy name thanks to his last campaign in Dallas before striking off to Europe, but his production hasn't been there this season, and United's got a good thing going at the moment.

It's possible United could trade a package of young players, role players, and/or draft picks to Portland for the big striker, furthering the Win Now mentality that has entered the United discourse since the Dax-for-DeRo trade. (Would anybody complain too much about a trade sending Chris Korb, Kurt Morsink, and a conditional draft pick in next year's draft to the Rose City?) I don't think Ben Olsen and the front office are likely to make such a trade, though. John Spencer is smart enough not to let us take his lunch - he's not likely to accept anything less than value for Cooper - and our FO is on its game and understands the long game well enough at this point that we're not going to overpay for a striker who isn't exactly setting the league on fire since his return to MLS. The question comes down to whether there's a sweet spot where Portland values certain players more highly than United, and there's no guarantee of that happening.

Obviously, I'm a bit ambivalent about the prospects of a trade for Kenny Cooper - certainly more so than Big D Soccer, SBN's FC Dallas blog - and I'm not bullish on the prospects for a trade involving United. What do you think, though? Vote in our poll and let us hear it in the comments.

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