DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Barely over two months after his knee injury, 1860 Munich striker Kenny Cooper is back to full strength and ready to get down to business as the team pushes forward for a strong second half of the season.
The striker's MCL injury in mid-November unexpectedly put the breaks on his first season as a starter in Europe, however after a month-long rehabilitation stint in Dallas he is feeling fit and confident for a quick return to the field.
"I'm happy with the way things have gone," Cooper told YA. "My doctors made me feel confident with how my knee is and this week I'm really able to test it and hopefully from there be able to get back into things."
With the German leagues nearing their break and the holidays approaching, 1860 coach Ewald Lienen chose to allow his marquee summer purchase to complete is rehabilitation stint at his home in Dallas starting in mid-December, a decision which the former MLS star feels has been an important factor in his quick recovery.
"It's been a comfort to be able to come home and see a doctor I've known for ten years," he explains concerning his work with longtime family physician Randal Troop. "He was the doctor that helped when I came back from my broken leg."
If his first three months in Munich already gave him a positive on-field impression of his teammates and coaches, the team's support in the time since his injury has convinced him equally of the organization's professional decorum.
"1860 has been great through this whole process," he confirms. "Between us and the team, there's been great communication amongst the doctors, coaches and ourselves."
"I'm appreciative Ewald has allowed me to stay here and work to get fit enough to go back into training," Cooper points out, adding "I feel good, like everything was handled professionally and with a lot of care."
The one-time Manchester United academy member expects to be released by his doctors in Dallas and fly back to Munich by the end of the week, however will use his final remaining days stateside to rigorously test his recovery on the training field.
"This week I'm going to try to be aggressive with soccer type of movements and things I'd normally be doing in training and in games," he explains. "I'm going to the field today and will spend some time running, cutting and doing shooting. I'm confident that will go well."
With the expectation of rejoining his teammates over the weekend, the US international plans on wasting no time before jumping back into the thick of things and helping his team on their gradual push up through the standings.
"I think ideally I'd like to get back there and slide immediately back into training," he affirms. "The team is on a nice run and hopefully that can continue now through the second half of the season."
A slow start saw the Lions hanging just above the bottom three relegation spots for much of the first three months of the current term, but their ongoing six-game unbeaten run has shown positive signs that they have indeed turned a corner with nearly half of their games still remaining.
"I'm happy to see that we're getting good results now since I've seen how hard everybody has worked all year, whether we win, lose or tie a game. Hopefully I can get back there and help the team to continue."
The current hot streak has the team sitting in 12th place, but a tight race above means they still remain a tantalizing eight points out of the final promotion playoff spot. While the team's week-to-week focus stays on consistent improvement, Cooper admits that the ambition of promotion to Germany's top tier is an unavoidable driving force pushing them ahead.
"I think that as long as promotion is attainable, I can tell you that's something I'll desire and it wouldn't surprise me if the rest of the team feels the same way," he concedes.
"We might be able to continue this run and who knows what other teams will do," he continues, concluding "maybe there will be an opportunity for promotion, but there are a lot of games still to be played."
The Lions will host 13th-place Hansa Rostock on Friday evening, with the chance to push as high as eighth place with a win pending results later in the weekend.