Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unsettled Cooke Facing Uncertain Future

It will be interesting to see if Terry Cooke laces up this weekend against DC United. With Colin Clark still absent on US national team duty and the team more likely to shift back to a 4-4-2 formation now that Omar Cummings is back to play upfront with Conor Casey, it would appear as if the veteran winger may get the nod. But Cooke is unsettled. He was frustrated after the Dallas game last weekend and a large part of that appears to be linked with the imminent arrival of midfielder/winger, Jamie Smith. Gary Smith and Steve Guppy like wingers who will take on people. Smith will do that, Jacob Peterson does it, Colin Clark makes his living doing it. Even Kosuke Kimura is increasingly doing it. Cooke is your classic delivery man, not a dribbler per se. He is very good at what he does but it may just be that he does not fit into the overall plans of the coaching staff. His relative age and his salary also count against him.

I can't say much as all the conversations I have had with various people about Cooke's future at the club, including with the man himself, are off the record. What I can say is that I don't think the incident involving his child in England earlier this year will have much to do with any decision he makes or is made for him. I thought for a long time that an incident so serious could make you reconsider where you need to be and, with his career coming into the twilight years, a move back to England may be in the offing. I don't think that is the case, however. Cooke just wants to play more and he doesn't appear to mind where that would be if it has to be away from Colorado.
The facts are these. The Rapids have to part with one senior player to make room for Smith and Facundo Diz. Smith's presence puts further pressure on Cooke. If you look at the roster, there aren't that many obvious choices that could be made. The defense is overloaded but it is hard to see anybody leaving from there. There could be an argument that, with the signing of Julien Baudet, Cory Gibbs could make way but that is hard to imagine. Greg Dalby could be another player but he is hardly in the same mold as Cooke and the team is not overloaded with defensive midfielders. Cooke does appear to be the obvious choice for the sacrifical slab. Gary Smith, who did say to me that there are one or two players that have attracted interest from other clubs, knows it will come down to a very hard decision. Many people will be very upset if Cooke does go, including me, but we all have to remember this is a business like any other. It will be a decision made with a heavy heart, that's for sure. There's little doubt that next week's announcements will be the biggest trades of the season so far.


Anonymous said...

Good points. Cookie's a Rapid icon and an outstanding individual. I would say, based strictly on performances if any player should be cut it should be Gibbs. His many defensive miscues have cost us far more games than Cooke may have potentially contributed to were it for the depth up front and coaching preferences. Plus, Cooke never publicly complains, is a good soldier, and always seems to come thru just when people seem to have forgotten about him. He is reliable, consistent, and knows this team, his role in it, and the league. Can the same be said for the much-lauded newcomers?

Scott said...

I feel like Cooke leaving is inevitable, especially after reading this piece Nick, and it really makes me want to go cry. Cooke has been one of my favorites since the first time I saw him play in a Rapids Jersey. No doubt there are other teams out there that would be interested in him with his amazing crosses that I dare say are better than one David Beckham. Nick, if there is any way you can get the coach and front office to keep Cooke around will you at least try please?

Nick Thomas said...

Scott, I'd love to have that power but I don't. All I would say is there comes a time when things have to change. We saw that with Bouna. Everyone thought they wouldn't get over him leaving but we did, and pretty quickly. The same will be true with Terry. Don't forget we have to think of the individual player too. If he feels his career would do better elsewhere, he needs to go for his own well-being. Yes, we would all love him to stay but the team must always come first. There's a part of me that thinks he hasn't really got a totally fair shot this season but I'm not the coach and he knows better than me and the average fan. No crying now. Terry will be fine wherever he ends up. And we always have his cracker against Kansas City to remember. You never know, we may all be surprised and see that TC may stay after all.

Scott said...

Yeah, of course you are right and I am sure that I will get over it. At the same time I'll still cheer for him if he ever comes back to Dick's for a game. It reminds me a lot of Chris Henderson back in the day. We traded him to KC and that was a tough one. Then he makes his way back to Colorado some how only to have us trade him away again. Now he's doing quite well in the front office up in Seattle. I'd still like a surprise though.

On another note, Smith played a 4-3-3 in the last match, is that going to give us any indications on possibly using that long term and bringing in the players to do so or will Smith go back to his usual 4-4-2?

Anonymous said...

Nick - all your points (and points made by others) are valid and make perfect sense....but it still doesn't subdue the anger I will have if Cooke is let go.

The Rapids seem to have a very disturbing history of finding ways to push out, let go, trade, dismiss...etc...."fan favorites". "Putting the team firs" and "team success on the pitch" aside - how can this be good for business? Considering this organization's struggles with building and maintaining a large, loyal, and boisterous fanbase how can a fairly regular purge of these players (ala Henderson, Balboa, Beckerman, Condoul, Cooke, etc.) be the "smart" business move?

I'm no expert and I don't profess to know how to "run things" the right way but it seems to me that people pay money to come see the players play - and they will continue to pay money to see their favorite players play through thick and thin. Not to mention, building a strong, long-lived relationship with guys like Cooke can have benefits even after his playing days are over...couldn't he serve a purpose in the front office after he retires??

Winning brings people to the park - fan favorites make them come back and back and back...

James said...

I agree with Josh on this. The front office are constantly hurting the fan base by slaughtering the fan favorites. I wouldn't say I'm "over" Bouna. I wish he were back. (with all fairness Pickens is doing a good job) When Bouna returns to the stadium in an opposing jersey I'm sure he'll get a standing ovatation as did Beckerman. Speaking of Beckerman, the season ticket holder next to me was a die-hard Beckerman fan (as was many Colorado fans of the Mid-2000's). Now she's cheers on SLC.
Getting rid of Cooke will be disasterous in my opinion and we'll see even less seats filled in 2010 unless Smith can bring home the 2009 MLS Cup. As old as Cooke is he's still a playmaker and he "shows up" whenever he's on the pitch... the only player who does consistently with the exception of Kimura. Cooke makes for a lively game, I love his "in your face" attitude on the pitch, and his explosiveness when you (and the opponent) least expect it.

Bottome line... if Cooke goes, who's next? Mastreone???