Twellman-Noonan pairing is top notch

Over the course of a whole season watching the New England Revolution it would be easy to form an impression about forwards Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan.

Noonan is the type of forward who likes to take on defenders with the ball. Twellman is the finisher of the two who finds just the right spot in the penalty area to latch on to the pass.

Twellman and Noonan have had a successful partnership this year, and how well they are able to partner Sunday in the MLS Cup Final against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Pizza Hut Park will be a factor in who hoists the Cup after the game. "I like to find the ball in the middle of the field and find him in the box," Noonan said, "because he does what he does best at, scoring goals."

Twellman is not so sure it is that simple.

"Pat is an ultimate finisher as well and I feel I can take on people as well," Twellman said. "At the end of the day, as long as one of us is getting on the end of things this team is going to be in good shape."

Twellman may have a slightly better case. He had seven assists in the regular season to go along with his 17 goals. Noonan also had seven assists, to go along with his eight goals.

Revolution coach Steve Nicol, though, seems to see things more like Noonan.

"Really, they are good together because they are so different," Nicol said, "which makes it difficult for the defenders. Because those two have a different sort of game, if they have a lot of movement, it makes it difficult for the defenders to take care of them."

Twellman and Noonan are familiar with each other from their days as youth players in the St. Louis area. Twellman attended St. Louis University High School, while Noonan attended DeSmet Jesuit High School. They were born just more than five months apart in 1980.

Their paths crossed only briefly on the same club soccer team. Noonan played a lot for Scott Gallagher, Twellman played some for Busch. Both clubs have a long history of success in the St. Louis area.

When Noonan joined the Revolution in 2003, he played a little more than half a season's worth of minutes. When Noonan started all but three games in 2004, Twellman fought injuries to stay in the lineup.

"It took a while actually," Twellman said. "Injuries crept in on my side. And during my injuries I tried to watch him and learn the little intricacies of his game."

This year the partnership has developed quicker and stronger. The pair started in 16 of the 32 regular season games together and all three playoff games. They may have played together in more games if not for national team commitments during a World Cup qualifying year.

"This year we had a good stretch of getting understanding," Noonan said. "We're not usually getting on each other. It's a lot easier when you're doing what you can to make the other look good."

Among the many awards various Revolution players have been up for, Twellman's season earned him the Honda MLS Most Valuable Player Award.

"Pat is an obvious pleasure to play with. He is the ultimate team player," Twellman said. "His tactical awareness and his runs off the ball are phenomenal. And obviously he is a very good passer. I have reaped a lot of rewards and benefits off that."

Robert Whitman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.