As he begins his second week on his new job, Pat Noonan is settling in nicely in Seattle.
The versatile midfielder/forward provides an excellent option for coach Sigi Schmid as Nate Jaqua recovers from injury, and he could play a key role in the early part of the season.
Seattle has never had outside midfielders who specialize in crossing the ball, in the vein of Houston’s Brad Davis. Instead, the Sounders have opted for quick, energetic players who fit in with the team’s desire to build the offense through a series of short passes on the ground.
Noonan said the style of play is a good fit for him, because he can do both.
“I’m enjoying it a lot," he said. "The type of play is something that I think is an entertaining style. The ball is moving and there’s a lot of interaction between the top six [players]. The back four are very sharp and confident to play the ball out of the back, which you need. There’s a lot of good combination play which leads to some good attacks.”
Noonan is a technical player who can take players on the dribble and pepper the opposition with accurate crosses. He also has the experience to adjust his position on the field to accommodate Freddie Ljungberg, who will sometimes roam out wide in an attempt to unlock the defense. Additionally, he can play as a target striker to act as a pressure-release valve to help the team build the attack.
Against New York, one of Seattle’s best scoring came on one of Noonan’s crosses. With Ljungberg positioned all the way up the field against New York’s center backs, Noonan powered in a cross from near the sideline that almost led to a goal.
“At that point in the game, with the ball out wide, I don’t think they were expecting a cross from there,” Noonan said. “My goal was to maybe catch them off guard or get one in behind the defenders.”
Two days after his first action with the Rave Green, the 29-year old played with Seattle’s reserves on Monday against the University of Washington. He scored on a header in the match before coming off after 45 minutes of work.
After one week in Seattle, Noonan has nothing but compliments for the Sounders FC organization, calling it “first-class on every level.” He also said it was good to be back with Sigi Schmid, who coached Noonan with the Columbus Crew and helped bring him in when the Colorado Rapids placed him on waivers.
“I enjoyed playing for him in Columbus,” Noonan said. “I enjoy his coaching methods. The trainings are very sharp. [There is] a lot of playing games, which translates into the games.”
Fucito continues to score
Michael Fucito may be the most prolific reserve game scorer in Sounders FC history. The Harvard product continued to light up the scoreboard against the University of Washington Monday afternoon, scoring two more goals. His first goal, an over the shoulder volley from close range, paled in comparison to his second in terms of quality. On that play, he took a quickly moving pass, knocked it into the air, and sent a topspin volley into the net in one fluid motion.
According to Schmid, Fucito and rookie David Estrada have been battling in training for a spot on the game-day roster. Estrada won the battle last week and was rewarded with playing time against New York -- it will be interesting to see if Seattle grants Fucito with a spot in the 18 on the road against Real Salt Lake.
Estrada also scored a goal against UW as the Sounders FC reserves won 5-0.
Evans, Scott leave training with injuries
Towards the end of Tuesday’s training, midfielder Brad Evans left with an injury to his right leg. Evans needed to be helped from the field and returned to the locker room on a cart.
While the severity of the injury is not yet known, Schmid didn't seem alarmed. According to the Sounders coach, Evans’ right knee will lock up on him about once a year, as it has done so for each of the last three seasons.
Ljungberg back in training
Ljungberg’s back is still sore, but the injury isn't keeping him out of training. The Swedish midfielder missed some time last week recovering from the well-publicized knock he took against the Philadelphia Union.
“It’s very sore but it’s blood and bone bruising and stuff so there’s not much you can do,” Ljungberg said after training. “I hope it will ease off the way the week goes.”