With Brian Crookham
This Week's Edition: "All-Star Formula Doesn't Add Up for Rapids' Terry Cooke"
Well it's that time of year again the MLS All-Star game is upon us.
Your traditional All-Star game often features two teams of star players batting the ball around like kittens every so often scoring some goals to keep the fans happy. Defending is a no-no and everyone goes home healthy.
However this year will not be a traditional All-Star game.
DC United’s Peter Nowak is charged with putting a team up against EPL powerhouse Chelsea. Although it is a preseason game for Chelsea and there is the possibility that not all of their superstars will play many will see this as a measuring stick for the league.
The selection process for the MLS All-Stars goes something like this: the First XI are chosen from a vote that consists of 25% fans 25% media 25% coaches and general managers and 25% players.
Nowak’s roster starts with these 11 players. Three of the 11 have a conflict with a league game and won’t be available. Nowak’s challenge with the help of two selections by Commissioner Don Garber is to supplement the roster with players who can turn an All-Star team into one that can compete on the field against a quality opponent.
Nowak chose Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni as guys he wants on his side in this battle. That says a lot about the two Rapids players as well as Nowak who is a fiery competitor who wants to have a shot at winning this game. They were chosen because Nowak feels they can help him win not for popularity.
The Rapids are represented well in the game but regardless of how these teams are selected it seems that a deserving someone is always left out. This year that someone is Rapids midfielder Terry Cooke.
Colorado has the disadvantage of being in a market in which they do not get many nationally-televised games. Although dedicated and vocal Rapids supporters groups are not large enough in scale to influence the fan vote. That means that 50% of the voting comes from sources that don’t see much of the Rapids. This lack of exposure certainly didn’t help Cooke.
For me Cooke is best described as an honest player. Every time he puts on the Rapids jersey he is prepared to give a full effort. He leads the league in assists but don’t overlook the fact that he puts in the work without the ball at his feet.
Although he is not the fastest player in the league his ability to read the game and quickly put thought into action causes nightmares for opposing defenders (ask Chivas USA’s Orlando Perez if you don’t believe me).
Cooke's trademark service from the right side always seems to put the goalkeeper in no-man’s land and finds opposing backs facing their own goal while trying to defend. They then have the difficult decision of either playing the ball with the possibility of putting it into their own net or leaving it with the possibility that the next player is a Rapids striker ready to finish an easy one. Not your favorite options as a defender.
For a variety of reasons players brought in as Senior Internationals don’t always work out. Terry Cooke is one that has worked out well. He didn’t come here to simply play out the remaining days of his career. Cooke feels the best of his career is still in front of him. He is disappointed in not being named to the team but you will never see it in his play or his attitude.
Lucky for us Rapids fans as long as he can stay healthy he will contribute to this team in all-star ways.....no matter how the vote turns out.
Brian Crookham's "Stoppage Time" column runs exclusively on ColoradoRapids.com. Brian is the Assistant Technical Director for the Colorado State Youth Soccer Association and serves as color commentator for Rapids broadcasts on Altitude TV. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or ColoradoRapids.com. Send any questions or comments to Brian at StoppageTime@att.net