Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE
Only with the New York Red Bulls would the league's second highest scorer be benched for the playoffs.
Apparently, 18 goals in 33 games isn't enough to secure Kenny Cooper a place in the starting line-up.
Saturday, he was sat in favor of Sebastien Le Toux, who was largely invisible in the conference semi-final match-up with D.C. United. Today Hans Backe told the New York Post he "hasn't decided" whether Cooper or Le Toux will get the start in the deciding match Wednesday.
Cooper, who's been a class act through all this, has caught some flack at various points this year for not being a target man, despite his 6'4" frame. Some of it even came out after his Player of the Week-worthy two goal performance against the Philadelphia Union in the season finale.
The next game, he's on the bench. As Steve Davis at Pro Soccer Talk points out, Le Toux is probably less a target man than Cooper. But that's not what Backe's looking for, apparently. The logic is Le Toux brings speed to get behind the D.C. back line, speed that Cooper doesn't have.
Granted, Le Toux didn't have very many opportunities to use his speed. For a good portion of the game, the Red Bulls couldn't screw up the final pass because they kept screwing up the penultimate pass. Then, when the Red Bulls finally secured possession in the time D.C. was down a man, Cooper was brought on for Le Toux halfway through.
But I'll reiterate again if it isn't already clear: Backe is starting a guy who's headed the wrong way down the Jersey Turnpike for a guy who scored the second most goals in the league. It sounds (and feels) like beating a dead horse, but this is classic Hans Backe. So much so it seems he's oblivious to the self-parody