VMP 2016 Final Countdown #14: Armando Cooper
Kristin: 12 – While maddening at times, the pros outweigh the cons to his presence on the pitch. Often hot-tempered (but only one yellow card) and loves that extra touch, but for the most part they’re better with him on the pitch.
Armando Cooper was part of the summer injection of talent (along with Tosaint Ricketts) when it was clear that Toronto FC needed additional support to keep them near the top of the Conference and still on pace for the playoffs. Brought in on loan from C.D. Árabe Unido in mid-August, Cooper didn’t get into a game until September and then only in a few sub appearances. His first start was against Orlando City SC at the end of September (a 0-0 result). It would be in the next game (a 2-1 loss to DCU) that Cooper would notch his first assist on a lovely ball that resulted in one of Jozy Altidore’s best goals.
Cooper would play all but one game the remainder of the season – including every game in the post-season – to mostly positive reviews. That’s not to say that all was great in each performance; he clearly comes from Concacaf and it showed in how he reacted to tackles (lots of rolling), to the number of stepovers (almost always one too many) and to his temperament (feisty) when on the pitch. Through many games we lamented the behaviour and worried that this would be a very short loan with Cooper going back to the bench in short order. But then he started to acclimate and began to meld with the team; more than once I commented that he was fitting in faster than any other player that TFC had brought in from another league before.
That’s not to say that all was suddenly perfection again – there was his disastrous game against Montreal in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals – he was unfocused, making stupid fouls, lax on defence; in short he was a nightmare. We were calling for him to subbed off before the half even ended and thankfully (though not soon enough to suit us) he was taken off in the 57th minute; he would however start again the next match and seemed to have returned to his good self.
Cooper was rewarded by Toronto FC after the post-season by making his loan permanent and ensuring the speedy Panamanian would be back next season. I think his pros outweigh his cons and his ability down the wing – and actually playing defense from time to time – serves TFC and the current formation quite well. Let’s enjoy his first goal with TFC – one of the many from that wild second leg of the Eastern Conference Final:
Mark: 25 – The greatest trick Armando Cooper pulled was convincing the club to buy him from Arabe Unido.
Tony: 14 – Has a fin for a hairdo and loves himself a cul-de-sac. Useful.
Duncan: 13 – I’m not entirely convinced by Cooper, he’s annoyingly concacaffy and way too fond of a dribble into trouble, but he’s clearly got some skill and had enough good games to justify his position. Not sure exactly where he fits, he’s not a number 10, or a winger, but a very useful part of a 3-5-2.
Jen: he does things differently (no one expects the panamanian inquisition, is that a thing?) — it was a good thing overall, but never really reached any level of brilliance.
Mark HSV: Cooper became an important and solid player, but too selfish on the ball. Needs to work with Giovinco a bit more to look for the decisive pass. But I expect to see him starting next season.
Duane: Hard to ignore that TFC really got rolling when he started starting even if hard to see why.
Richard: Skillful but a diving twat so he loses points.
Mel: I’m still not convinced about Cooper. I think I need to see some more of him before I form an opinion.
David: Maybe I’m just bitter that Cooper came in and supplanted Will Johnson, but I didn’t think his play was that exceptional. He filled a gap and I wouldn’t have been upset if he left at the end of his loan.