Eddie Johnson and Kenny Cooper are two names that have fluttered in and out of the US national team over the last five or so years.
Both players were deemed to have outgrown MLS when they left for pastures new, more precisely Europe back in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Both however suffered the same fate in Europe struggling to make an impact and falling off the radar in terms of the national team.
Johnson made the move to Fulham where he failed to score a goal. Loan spells at Cardiff City, Greek side Aris Thessaloniki and Preston North End didn’t prove to be any more successful.
A very short stay in Mexico, with Puebla, proved to be just as unsuccessful and he rejoined the MLS in February 2012 initially joining Montreal Impact before being traded to the Seattle Sounders in exchange for two players.
Cooper’s jaunt to Europe was equally poor, a move to German side 1860 Munich in Germany’s second tier, where he scored just two goals during his stay.
After failing to establish himself with the German side he was loaned out to English team Plymouth Argyle in January 2010, the team were then based in the Championship.
Cooper, however, managed only to play in seven games for Argyle and an option to make the move permanent was not taken up.
A return to MLS with the Portland Timbers took place in January 2011, an average season with the Timbers followed and it was a surprise when New York Red Bulls acquired him for the 2012 season.
So that was both players’ stories of relative failure up until this season.
The rest though is a tale of success.
Upon their return to MLS, both strikers have proved just how good they can be at this level when they have their confidence restored.
Cooper has had a superb season with the Red Bulls, netting 13 goals in just 21 appearances. He has formed an excellent partnership with Thierry Henry and with the recent signing of Sebastian Le Toux, more goals look to be on the way.
Cooper has won 10 caps for the national team, scoring four goals in the process. If his current form continues then he could soon find himself back in contention for Jurgen Kilnsmann’s side.
Johnson has also enjoyed a stellar season upon his return to MLS; he has scored eight goals in 17 games for the Sounders as he has overcome fitness problems to return to his best.
This culminated on Wednesday night when he scored an injury time winner for the MLS all stars in a win against Champions League holders Chelsea.
This capped a good six month spell for Johnson who looks back to his best and—like Cooper—he could also see a return to action for the national side if he continues his rich vein of form.
It just goes to show that if you return to a league that you're familiar with, and you regain your confidence, you can rebuild your career.
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