Pat Noonan has known for a while that his playing days would be ending shortly. So when the opportunity to join Bruce Arena's staff with the LA Galaxy arose, it was an easy decision to hang up his boots.
The veteran forward announced his retirement on Friday to become a Galaxy assistant coach, stepping into the slot that opened when Jovan Kirovski was promoted to technical director earlier this week.
“I'm really looking forward to the opportunity,” Noonan told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday from the MLS Player Combine. “I couldn't ask for a better situation in terms of starting my coaching career under the most successful head coach in the league, and with Dave [Sarachan] and Curt [Onalfo] as assistants who also have head coaching experience. I'll be able to learn a lot from all three of them.”
Noonan, 32, who has his B coaching license, says he's been mulling retirement for about a year and “the opportunity opening up here made it a lot easier with my decision.”
He follows in the footsteps of Gregg Berhalter, who was an assistant coach in 2011, his final season as a player, before taking the head-coaching job at Swedish club Hammarby, and Kirovski, who joined Arena's staff after retiring a year ago.
“I was at the point in my career where I was in and out of the 18, and I think if I'm not going to be as heavily involved as I used to earlier in my career, then it's time to move on,” Noonan said. “As tough as it is to hang them up, I'm very excited. ... The longer I played in this league, the more years' experience I gained, the more I thought I could add something to the coaching side of things.”
Noonan's contract option with LA wasn't exercised, and he was a free agent after he was undrafted during last month's Re-Entry process. He had joined the Galaxy from Seattle during the Re-Entry phase before last season and played in 14 competitive first-team matches for the club, with five starts and two goals.
He scored 37 goals with 29 assists in 119 MLS games, 100 of them starts, with New England in his first five MLS campaigns. He battled myriad injuries over the last six seasons with Columbus, Colorado, Seattle and LA, making just 28 league starts and scoring only five goals.
“That was part of why I wasn't seeing more minutes, and that was on me, and that was tough to swallow, but it was what it was,” he said. “When you're not playing because of that and you can't be as heavily relied upon, that helped in looking past soccer as a player.”