Pat Noonan
Getty Images

Veteran Noonan embraces new role with Galaxy reserves

CARSON, Calif. -- Pat Noonan knows his role with the LA Galaxy. And if it's not quite what he'd like it to be, he accepts what it is and commits to getting the most from it.

That made Friday's reserve victory over Vancouver all the sweeter. Noonan scored a superb first goal and set up Rafael Garcia's even better third goal in a 6-0 romp at the Home Depot Center that gave the Galaxy the MLS Reserve League's Western Division title.

That wasn't his chief role; the victory, while satisfying for LA, is just a means to an end. The veteran winger/forward is a mentor of sorts to all the youngsters, whose development under reserve coach Curt Onalfo has given the Galaxy depth they did not possess last year.

“Right now [my role] is just in that reserve role, trying to be a veteran and trying to lead the guys in the second team when we're training against the first team,” said Noonan, 32, who came to the Galaxy from Seattle in last December's Re-Entry Draft. “We got to push them to keep them ready week-in and week-out, and they have been. Everybody contributes.”

Noonan (above, left) would like to be in the first XI, but he's seen action in only 10 MLS matches, one as a starter, while playing in the US Open Cup and in two CONCACAF Champions League games. He's seen just 174 league minutes, 85 shy of last year's mark and well below his totals in his first eight seasons.

“I always want to be involved in the first team. Everybody does,” he said. “So when you're not, you try to push yourself and do what you can to get in there. At the same time, you got to have the right mentality when you're not and be there supporting your teammates. And if the time comes, it does.”

Onalfo sees that in his captain.

“He wants to improve his standing, get more playing time, so that's his motivation,” Onalfo said. “To his credit, he takes it with a great attitude.”

Onalfo said he told Noonan before the game to “be a sense of calmness out there for them, be the brains,” and “that's what he was.”

“You have guys who are workhorses, just little bunnies who run around,” said Garcia, a rookie midfielder whose set up Noonan's eighth-minute strike. “And you have someone like Pat that has the experience and the knowledge to make everything so much easier and simple.”

The immediate reward is worthwhile -- “it's always nice to win a championship, whether it's a reserve-league championship or an MLS Cup title,” Noonan noted -- but it's really about what's to come.

“You always want more,” he said. “You always have to be performing and on your game, because it's always a chance and somebody's always watching. It's nice to get these minutes and have a positive to take out of the fact that you might not be in the 18 week in and week out, but you can still come in and take these games seriously and win something.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.