CARSON, Calif. – Through the first five years of his career, Pat Noonan was a force with the New England Revolution.
He scored 21 goals over the course of his first two seasons in the league, finishing his time with the Revs with 37 goals and 30 assists in 119 regular-season games
But he’s struggled to find the same consistent success since then, suiting up for three different clubs and failing to appear in more than 17 games for any team in one season.
He’s hoping that his latest stint with the LA Galaxy – who scooped up him in the Re-Entry Draft in December – might give him a chance to jumpstart his career with Bruce Arena, a coach who has known him for years.
“I was happy for the opportunity,” Noonan told MLSsoccer.com last week. “Bruce was the one who gave me a chance with the national team years ago, and I always admired the style of play, the training sessions. He’s done a good job of getting the right kind of players for their system.”
Noonan earned his first US cap in 2004, during the heyday of the LA Galaxy manager’s national team tenure, and picked up 15 caps in total. While bouncing around in MLS the past few seasons, Noonan has noticed the kind of the team Arena has put together – squads with veteran leadership, budding talent and stars interspersed within.
For his part, the 31-year-old forward said he has qualities that can fit in with the leadership aspect of the squad.
“In certain times, training sessions, the sharpness, [you have to] make sure guys are prepared in training and in the game settings,” Noonan said. “With a lot of young faces and a lot of rookies, just making them feel comfortable with the ball and not doing the things that make a guy nervous.”
Aside from providing the kind of leadership that is perhaps missing with the absences of veterans Gregg Berhalter and Frankie Hejduk, Noonan will do his best to contribute offensively as well.
But that’s easier said than done, especially with a likely starting duo up top of Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane. Noonan has also scored just four goals in his last 54 matches.
That means the veteran will likely occupy more of a support role for LA in 2012, but that’s just what the club needs. The Galaxy will play a minimum of 41 competitive matches in 2012.
Noonan will face a battle for minutes not only with Keane and Buddle but also with Chad Barrett, Adam Cristman and youngster Jack McBean.
“You have to be ready to go when you’re number is called, and hopefully each week I’ll continue to get stronger, more fit, better with the ball and put myself in positions to get on the field whenever that is,” Noonan said. “There is a lot of talent on this team, some good depth now and hopefully I will get those opportunities.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.