FRISCO – Training ended 45 minutes ago, but Kenny Cooper is still on the field.
He’s sending shot after shot at the net with the help of some younger players serving the ball from the wings.
It’s a scene not that different from four years ago, the last time Cooper donned the red and white-hooped FC Dallas jersey. The time spent practicing and a drive to be the best on the field is exactly what FCD was looking for when they acquired Cooper two weeks ago.
It’s an expectation Cooper plans to live up to.
“Schellas and Fernando [Clavijo] have made me feel very appreciated,” Cooper said after training of the coach and technical director who brought him back to his hometown. “When you feel that sense of appreciation and people are putting faith in you, you want to repay it. I want to make sure I’m doing the right things everyday so I can do well for them.”
It’s a homecoming for Cooper in many ways – back to the city he grew up in and reunited with a coaching staff he is very familiar with. Hyndman tried to recruit Cooper when he was at SMU and took over at FC Dallas in 2008 when Cooper was on the roster.
“This is my hometown so it’s good to come back. There’s a couple of familiar faces around here, but I’ve really enjoyed meeting the new guys and being back in familiar settings,” Cooper said.
Hyndman is just as happy as Cooper is about returning to Dallas. Hyndman said Cooper will play a vital role for FCD in 2013. When asked what he learned on FCD’s recent trip to Cancun, Hyndman didn’t mince words.
“The biggest thing I learned is it’s nice to have Kenny Cooper back,” Hyndman said.
Cooper joined FCD in 2006 and was named to the MLS All-Star team in 2008 among other honors during his tenure. Since leaving Dallas in 2009, Cooper spent time in Germany, Portland and New York.
In 2012, he scored 18 goals for the New York Red Bulls, a career high for the striker.
Cooper joins an FCD squad that is overflowing with talent at forward – Cooper along with newly signed Eric Hassli will team up with Blas Perez.
Cooper said he’s thrilled to be surrounded by such quality players at forward.
“As a striker, it’s always great to have confidence in the guys around you. When you’re surrounded by good players you can have that. I’ve certainly felt that since I’ve been here,” Cooper said.
With just two and half weeks to go until the opener, Cooper says he will keep working to get to know his new teammates and be in top shape for the March 2 match vs. Colorado.
When Cooper walks onto the pitch that Saturday night, he says it will be special to see the FC Dallas fans who supported him during his early playing days.
“I feel a deep sense of appreciation to them, so it’s great to have an opportunity to get back out in front of them.”