Timbers trade Cooper, draft defender and midfielder

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



The Portland Timbers traded forward Kenny Cooper to New York on Thursday for allocation money and a 2013 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick.

Also, the Timbers selected Connecticut defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste with their first pick in the two-round MLS SuperDraft. They picked Notre Dame midfielder Brendan King with their second-round selection.

Jean-Baptiste is a member of Generation Adidas, meaning his contract will not count against the salary cap. Generation Adidas is a program used by MLS to sign young players to their first professional contract as a way of keeping promising young talent in the league.

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who Portland drafted second overall in 2011, is a Generation Adidas player.

Jean-Baptiste, listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, was a freshman all-American at the University of Connecticut in 2010 and the Big East defensive player of the year in 2011.

Jean-Baptiste said he was “very excited” to be joining the Timbers and expects to come in and work hard to show the coaching staff that he deserves to play.

The Timbers have a need for central defenders, with only a couple of established, healthy players there: Eric Brunner and Futty Danso.

Jean-Baptiste, 19, said he has played against older players throughout his youth soccer and college careers. The jump to MLS will be more challenging, he said, but is not intimidating.

“My knowledge of the game can only get better. I look forward to working with the veteran players (in Portland) and learning from them,” he said.

Jean-Baptiste said he had not talked with Timbers coach John Spencer prior to the draft.

“I know more about the Timbers Army than I do about the team, to be honest,” he said.

After trading Cooper, the Timbers still have five forwards on the roster, including Camas’ Brent Richards and new addition Jose Adolfo Valencia from Colombia. Nagbe, an attacking midfielder, can also play forward.

The Timbers open training camp on Jan. 23. Their 2012 MLS opener is on March 12 at home against Philadephia.

King (6-0, 160) was taken with the 27th overall pick in the two-round SuperDraft. The midfieder had six goals and 14 assists in his four seasons at Notre Dame. During his first two years at Notre Dame, King was a teammate of Timbers forward Bright Dike. He was a member of the national team that played in the 2007 under-17 World Cup.

Seattle picked defender Andrew Duran from Creighton with the 15th overall pick and forward Babayele Sodade of Alabama-Birmingham with the 34th overall pick.

The Montreal Impact, who become the 19th club in MLS this season, selected Andrew Wenger of Duke with the first overall pick. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC took Akron forward Darren Mattocks with the second overall pick.