Editor's note: What use is having a British contributor if you don't get him to write about "football"?
So less than a week after Brek Shea skulks off to Europe on transfer deadline day, FC Dallas has brought in two signings, at least one of which is a sizeable coup. Kenny Cooper, a proven MLS goalscorer whose best form undoubtedly came in Dallas from 2006 to 2009, is returning from a pretty triumphant season partnering with -- and outscoring -- the legendary Thierry Henry on the New York Red Bulls.
It's unclear why Red Bulls let him go; perhaps he wasn't the star name they wanted partnering with Henry up front. But given that the fans here already love him, and that his injury problems appear to be in the past, Cooper is a huge signing for a team that counted on Shea to put butts in the seats.
Yesterday's other signing, Some French Guy, is both a striker and French. I'm not sure if Cooper specified that he required a French striker to play alongside him, but after Some French Guy's total blow-out at the Whitecaps last season, he's no Brek Shea, let's put it that way. At best, he might re-produce the form he showed in the Swiss league. That's not the best advert for him, admittedly, but Some French Guy might turn out to be Exactly The French Guy Dallas Was Looking For.
The whole Shea transfer ended up becoming a pretty lengthy saga, and one that's interesting on two counts. One: MLS isn't going to reach the heights of the Brazilian or Argentinian leagues, let alone Europe, until you abandon this collective bargaining nightmare for international transfers. You know what soccer is in Europe? It's the rampant, unstoppable, free market, where players change hands for $10 million every couple of days during the transfer windows. There's no doubting Stoke got an unbelievable bargain. Brek Shea has worked out at about 1/20th of a Fernando Torres. Embrace capitalism, America. I can't believe I'm saying that.
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Two: Stoke is a team of giants with one simple tactic not popular at all in American soccer - hit it long to the big man. I hope Shea enjoys throw-ins and headers. I felt sure the rumors of a move to England would see him end up at Fulham, a team with a great history of American signings (McBride, Dempsey, Bocanegra) and a style of play more accommodating to Shea. But it would seem he's now a cut-price American version of Matthew Etherington, and if you don't know what that means, don't, for the love of God, research it.
Anyway, after the doom and gloom, FC Dallas had to make a statement of intent, and the point is that yesterday they made it in some style. There's no doubt Cooper will score goals at this level.
It's a move in his interests too. He reacquaint himself with a team where he spent his best seasons (although is still only 28), and with a good enough run he's got every chance of pushing the average-at-best Eddie Johnson or Herculez Gomez out of a spot on the national team.
It's always a bad day for the fans when the best player on the team leaves, but it doesn't need to be such a problem for the team themselves. Put in a bit of work on the defense, keep Ferreira fit, and, far from being the end of the world, next season might just be a winner. A collective winner, without the distraction of the big-name star.