FC Dallas' Kenny Cooper Named to U.S. National Team

The following is from a news release issued by FC Dallas.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper to the 23-player roster that will represent the U.S. at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 3 to July 26, 2009. 

Two days after Sunday’s final at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup live on ESPN2 and Univision, the U.S. will gather in Seattle where the U.S. team and staff will regroup to prepare for the opening game against Grenada on July 4 at 6 p.m. PT at Qwest Field.

The team then crosses the country to face Honduras on July 8 at 9 p.m. ET at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., before rounding out group play against Haiti on July 11 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. ET. All of the U.S. matches in the CONCACAF Gold Cup will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and the Univision networks, with all three group games airing on TeleFutura.

The roster, which carries over four players from the FIFA Confederations Cup squad in Freddy Adu, Charlie Davies, Heath Pearce and Luis Robles, also includes the return of regular starters Steve Cherundolo and Brian Ching from injury. Cherundolo, sidelined after hip surgery, has not appeared since Oct. 11, 2008, against Cuba, and Ching returns after missing the last two FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup with a hamstring strain. 

Overall, just six players on the roster have more than 10 caps, with Cherundolo leading the way at 51 international appearances. Seven players – including Robles – will be looking to make their U.S. National Team debut, while another nine have five or fewer caps. The 23-man roster averages just eight caps against the 27-cap average for the 2009 Confederations Cup roster as Bradley let most of the regular national team players either return to their clubs or have a brief break before starting training camp for the 2009-10 season. 

Only Ching and defender Michael Parkhurst return from the 23-man squad that won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with Ching responsible for drawing the foul in the final against Mexico that led to the game-tying penalty kick by Landon Donovan. In fact, the 2009 squad includes more players that won the trophy in 2005, with Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad and Santino Quaranta returning from the group that won the regional title after a penalty-kick shootout against Panama. 

Ching leads the roster in scoring, and will be joined at forward by a youthful quartet that includes the 20-year-old Adu, who is second among the group with 13 caps. Davies has started the last two matches in South Africa and scored the goal that started the improbable string of events that saw the U.S. advance to the knockout stage of the Confederations Cup. Adu and Kenny Cooper, who is tied for third in MLS in scoring with seven goals, each scored in their last start for the U.S., a 2-0 win against Guatemala on Nov. 19 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier played after the U.S. had clinched advancement to the final round. Quaranta returns to the U.S. team looking for his first appearance since Nov. 12, 2005, against Scotland, although he brings the experience of the 2005 Gold Cup in which he converted one of the penalty kicks in the shootout at Giants Stadium. 

The U.S. squad’s youth movement is most evident in the midfield, where five of the eight midfielders on the roster are looking for their first cap. Kyle Beckerman holds the most experience as the only member of the group to play an entire game for the U.S., going the full 90 in a 1-0 loss to Colombia at the 2007 Copa America. Davy Arnaud and Robbie Rogers are the other midfielders with caps. While international experience is missing from their resume, the midfielders have been ironmen for their MLS clubs with six of the eight midfielders – Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) and Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards) leading their clubs in minutes played by a midfielder.

On defense, Bradley will have more experience at his disposal. Cherundolo returns from injury, and can look to bookend the U.S. back line with Heath Pearce. That duo started eight matches in 2008 for the U.S. at right and left back, respectively, including five World Cup qualifiers and marquee friendlies against Poland, England, Spain and Argentina. In the center of defense, Conrad returns to the team for the first time since January 2008 and brings with him 24 career caps that include appearances against Italy and Ghana at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Parkhurst has proven capable in the back playing every minute of the 2008 Olympics as an overage inclusion, and the 6-foot-4-inch duo of Clarence Goodson and Chad Marshall will also vie for minutes. Jay Heaps rounds out the defensive corps as the senior member of the roster age-wise, but still looking for his first cap in his 11th season in MLS.

Three goalkeepers are included on the roster, but only two will be with the team to begin the tournament. Troy Perkins joins the U.S. with one career cap, a 90-minute appearance in January’s 3-2 victory against Spain. Luis Robles of FC Kaiserslautern has been training with the team since May 26 and is still in search of his first appearance. Jon Busch will remain with the Chicago Fire unless needed due to suspension or injury.

The U.S. is seeking to become the second team to win three consecutive Gold Cups, having claimed the crown in 2005 and 2007. Mexico won three consecutive titles from 1993 to 1998 and also won in 2003. The United States has won four times since the tournament began in 1991, including three of the last four events. The U.S. has never lost a match in group play, holding a 21-0-1 lifetime record.

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