With this year’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions league potentially clogging up their schedule, the Sounders FC has been touting their depth throughout the preseason. In addition to the improvement of their returning players and the additions of rookie David Estrada and Blaise Nkufo, in July, they have been looking at several trialists that have league experience and a legitimate shot to improve that depth.
Monday another such player appeared at Starfire in MLS veteran Pat Noonan.
The former New England Revolution and Columbus Crew midfielder/forward was waived last week by the Colorado Rapids after playing 17 games with them to close out the 2009 season.
“It was just one of those waiting things and hoping a team was interested. I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to come to this organization. So far, it's been exactly what I expected,” Noonan said after his first training session on Monday. “The rosters are kind of filling up at this point in time, so I was fortunate that Seattle picked me up. Hopefully I can come in and do something to catch their eye.”
Noonan played for Schmid in Columbus, where he also played alongside midfielder Brad Evans and assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson. Additionally, he played in New England with James Riley. Schmid likes that familiarity and the versatility of Noonan.
“He is an experienced player. He can play up front. He can also play wide. He has played both flanks. He has played the high striker. He has played the underneath striker,” Schmid said. “He’s got decent size. He is good in the air. So he can bring a lot of those elements for us.”
Only one day into training with Seattle, Noonan can already sense the competitive atmosphere around the training grounds, where the Sounders have been battling for roster spots for the better part of the last two months.
“It seems like a friendly group. Guys aren't out to be mean out there, but you know at the same time everyone's fighting for jobs,” he said. “That's something when you go out and train you look forward to, because you know you're going to be pushed.”
The 29-year-old Noonan has played seven seasons in MLS, notching 40 goals and 32 assists. When healthy, he’s been a solid contributor, tallying 36 goals and 26 assists in the four seasons that he played over 20 games.
Evans, for one, likes what he brings to the team, even after just one training session.
“I think it’s great. We brought him in at Columbus and he brought a good spark. We add another bit of talent and skill and experience to our team,” Evans said. “We’re so deep in every position now that it’s great for competition in practice. He adds a calmness and he’s a great passer. We’re lucky to have him.”
Day One for Noonan, though, was more about getting his feet wet, so to speak. The Sounders trained amidst a torrential downpour on Monday, but that didn’t dampen his view of Seattle.
“It was good to get in the mix and meet the guys, and get a feel for the facility and the coaches,” he said. “So far so good.”