Kenny Cooper already helped the expansion Portland Timbers beat his former team once. Now he's returning to where he grew up to face FC Dallas.
The former FC Dallas star returns to Pizza Hut Park for the first time to face his hometown club when the Timbers look for their first road victory Saturday night.
Cooper played high school soccer in Dallas and scored 40 goals in 90 games with FC Dallas from 2006-09 before he was sold to German club 1860 Munich. He returned to MLS this season with the Timbers and scored in a 3-2 home victory over Dallas on April 17.
"When we played them there, we got punished on the corner," Dallas defender Ugo Ihemulu said. "That was my guy, Kenny Cooper. So just gotta be aware and try and improve from those mistakes that we made in the last game."
Dallas (8-4-4) has made it clear that the 6-foot-3 Cooper will be a marked man in the rematch.
"We know that Kenny Cooper, he likes to drift into the midfield," defender Zach Loyd said. "So I think the big thing for the defense is to let the midfield be aware when he comes into those gaps."
Portland is 0-4-2 on the road and ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-3 home draw with New York on Sunday.
Jack Jewsbury scored his team-leading fourth goal, but Portland (5-6-3) blew a two-goal lead in the final 17 minutes. The Timbers allowed a goal in second-half stoppage time for the second straight game, also doing so in a 1-0 loss to Colorado on June 11.
"Guys are gutted right now," Jewsbury told the Timbers' official website. "That's two games in a row where we've given up some points late in games and we thought we deserved more. We've got to take the positives of the way we approached the second half and take that into Dallas."
Portland coach John Spencer will return to the sideline after he watched the New York match from the press box due to a one-game suspension. He says he's happy with the expansion team's progress.
"We've got a lot of guys who haven't played at this level, and some guys that were in and out of this level," Spencer said. "It's a big ask."
Dallas is hoping to put together a better performance than it did in its last home game, a 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on June 12. The club bounced back last Saturday with a 2-1 win over Chivas USA on Jackson Goncalves' goal in the 85th minute.
"This was a game for us to kind of get back on track," coach Schellas Hyndman told FC Dallas' official website.
Hyndman has warned his club about Portland's ability to score on set pieces.
"I think we're going to have to limit the fouls we give them in dangerous areas because a guy like Jewsbury, he delivers a great ball into the box," Ihemulu said. "They have some big guys that really can get on the end of the crosses."