TUKWILA, Wash. — It’s been difficult to judge the value of Pat Noonan to Seattle. Almost since he joined the Sounders toward the beginning of the 2010 season, the former New England Revolution star has battled a series of nagging injuries that have kept him off the field.
Finally fit, two weeks ago Seattle locked up Noonan until the end of the season with a new contract. The Missouri native responded with an excellent showing in a rare starting role Wednesday in the US Open Cup, recording the assist on Nate Jaqua’s first goal and triggering Seattle’s offense in a stunning first half in an eventual 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy.
With the exception of the MLS Reserve League, head coach Sigi Schmid estimated this was Noonan’s longest stint in on the field in the past nine months.
“Obviously it’s been a long time since he’s been on the field for competitive games,” Schmid said. “For him to have played 60 minutes like [he did] tonight … I was very pleased.”
Noonan’s veteran leadership was on display during his 64-minute shift. His clever through ball to Jaqua opened the scoring in the fourth minute and a couple of other passes led to dangerous scoring chances.
Teammate and goalkeeper Terry Boss complimented him on finding spaces to get open and delivering the ball to teammates in dangerous areas.
“Pat has such a great soccer IQ,” Boss said. “You can see when he has the ball, people are running and he’s finding them.”
This weekend, Noonan faces the team that released him in 2010: the Colorado Rapids. As a player who has worked his way into Schmid’s game-day roster in recent weeks, he may play a role in Saturday’s match. The midfielder has been used as a substitute in each of Seattle’s past three league matches, helping to salt away late leads in two of those occasions.
After totaling 682 minutes in league games in 2010, it appears Noonan is set to feature for this Sounders team in the latter half of the season. While he’s yet to tally a goal or assist in league play, his passing contributions have re-established him as a valued member of the team.
“When I’m out there, I try to be creative and put people in positions where they can make plays,” said Noonan. “[I’m] not just trying to pass from Point A to Point B, but to do it with a purpose.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS