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Kenny Cooper's place in the new shape

Let's just start right off and say he is not the target man in that shape. In fact Sigi Schmid has not used him in that role even one time. But where will Cooper hang? That will be one of the keys to success in the new attack.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

With Sigi Schmid indicating that something like a 4-2-3-1 (even reminiscent of the Arrow) will be the path forward. The shift away could be seen in preseason if you assumed that Kenny Cooper was being used in the role Clint Dempsey will take. But, that was also coming while Sigi was talking about two forwards in front of Clint.

Now, with Obafemi Martins up top to be the target of throughballs and punts over the opposing defensive line makes sense. Having Marco Pappa or Lamar Neagle higher up the pitch makes sense. Osvaldo Alonso deep with a great box-to-box mid nearby makes sense.

What should cause one to pause about the front six is what to do with Cooper. Cooper's history as a wide(r) midfielder is not strong. He is capable, but it diminishes the value of someone who has twice scored 18 goals. While he was practicing with the wide men yesterday as Seattle Sounders FC worked on how to take advantage of spaces between the mids and defense and space between the defense and goal that is only one way he will be used.

DeAndre Yedlin is still the width on the right (full team passing from right corner at 51% v Yedlin passing from right corner at 70%). There will be times when he gets that space due to pure speed. There will be times when he captures that space through interchanges with a Cooper when Kenny's the right man in the band of three.

There will also be times when Yedlin does that work with a central midfielder in build-up play.

Those times are when Kenny can do an interesting thing. He can become a third forward in the box, likely just in front of Dempsey and returning to the two forward system that Sigi once indicated would be key. These times will be those similar situations as those that helped produce Cooper's two great and darn good scoring seasons.

It is not likely that those situations happen often enough that Kenny slots home 18 goals again. But they are situations that will happen. It is a way to maximize his effect in what is an imperfect situation. But it is better than playing him as a pure wide midfielder and better than playing him as a target man.

This will be just another situation to look for in an offense that continues to develop while Sounders FC look to work their nine players that have scored five or more goals in their history.

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