Timbers trade Cooper to N.Y. for cash, draft pick

Portland’s MLS draft day highlighted by transaction

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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photoKenny Cooper played in all 34 MLS games for the Timbers in 2011.

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A year ago, the signing of forward Kenny Cooper was the first big splash made by the Portland Timbers.

On Thursday, Cooper was again a newsmaker when the Timbers traded the forward to the New York Red Bulls.

In return, the Timbers received allocation money and the Red Bulls’ highest pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.

Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said the trade came together quickly, and that it was a good fit for both teams.

“(Cooper) definitely helped us,” Wilkinson said, reflecting on a 2011 season when Cooper shared the Timbers’ lead in goals with eight.

Ultimately, Cooper was not the best fit for the style of attack Timbers coach John Spencer wants to play, Wilkinson said.

Spencer declined to comment on Thursday about the Cooper trade, saying he wanted to focus his Thursday comments on the team’s two draft picks.

Wilkinson said the Timbers want a forward who can be aggressive around the goal and also hold possession to help create opportunities for speedy Jorge Perlaza. He said that Bright Dike and Eddie Johnson will each have a chance to earn that role when training camp starts on Jan. 23.

Johnson, who missed the later part of 2011 with two concussions, is back in Portland and healthy, Wilkinson said. Dike missed the first half of 2011 with a ruptured Achilles and saw limited action late in the season.

Wilkinson did not rule out additional roster moves to bolster the attack.

The general manager also confirmed that the Timbers are waiting for league paperwork to be completed before announcing the acquisition of an international defender.

Cooper, 27, played in all 34 MLS games for the Timbers in 2011, finishing the season with eight goals and two assists. He was promoted as the face of the first-year franchise after being signed by the Timbers on Jan. 17, 2011, following parts of two seasons in Germany with 1860 Munich. Cooper has played five seasons in MLS, with FC Dallas (2006-09) and Portland.

By trading Cooper to New York, the Timbers gained some valuable salary cap room and more money to spend on adding players.

The 2013 first-round pick will be the highest pick the Red Bulls own, even if it is acquired by trade. Allocation is money provided by MLS above the team’s regular salary budget. It can be used to acquire new players or to create more salary cap space.

The amount of allocation money on a team’s books is not made public to protect the team and league in negotiations for players.

The Timbers now have six forwards on their roster, including recently-signed Camas’ native Brent Richards. Also new to the team is 20-year-old Colombian Jose Adolfo Valencia. Darlington Nagbe can play either midfield or forward.