Watch any sporting event in the US and his name will come up in a clutch situation.
Whether it’s a basketball player at the free throw line late in the game or a kicker lining up for a last-second field goal. Even if it’s just a simple game of darts.
Especially, though, on the golf course. Try going 18 holes without hearing someone saying, “Noonan,” as someone lines up a putt.
Pat Noonan, has heard them all before.“There’s never a shortage of that,” Noonan said of references to the movie Caddyshack. “As long as my name’s brought up, there will always be someone in the crowd having a laugh.”
The Sounders FC crowds may soon be calling Noonan’s name, but not in an effort to jinx a penalty kick. The 20th leading scorer among active players in Major League Soccer signed with Seattle on Wednesday after two days training with the team on trial while his contract was finalized by the league.
To say the last few days have been a whirlwind for him would be an understatement. Two weeks ago, he was with the Colorado Rapids preparing to face the Sounders FC in a preseason that would eventually be cancelled because of severe weather warnings in Colorado. No problem, though, as Noonan just turned his attention to the Rapids’ season opener in Los Angeles against Chivas USA. Then on Tuesday, he was waived.
“It’s been a complete turnaround. I went from thinking I was going to be with the Rapids for the season, or at least a trade if they weren’t happy with me, to being waived. It was very unexpected, but that’s how it works,” said Noonan, 29.
The Sounders FC and head coach Sigi Schmid leapt at the opportunity to add the versatile forward to their stable of scoring options. Noonan couldn’t be happier.
“It’s given me an opportunity to come to an organization that I’ve heard great things about. I’ve seen that they have the talent, so I was very excited at the opportunity when Sigi showed interest,” he said. “It’s been a whirlwind, but I’m very excited for the opportunity.”
Noonan started his pro career with the New England Revolution and was an instant star in the league. He finished his rookie campaign in 2003 with 10 goals and 7 assists and was a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award after being selected ninth overall in the MLS SuperDraft. He followed that up with seasons of 11 goals and 8 assists and 8 goals and 7 assists and earned a spot with the US National Team for the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Injuries slowed his rapid rise through the league, but he was still an alternate for the US squad in the 2006 World Cup.
He bounced back for another standout season in 2007. In addition to registering 7 goals and 4 assists in his final season with the Revolution he earned MVP honors in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup championship, prompting a move overseas to the Aalesunds FK in Norway. After finishing out the 2008 season in Norway, he returned stateside, joining Schmid’s Columbus Crew squad and helping them to the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2008. Midway through the 2009 season, he was traded to the Colorado Rapids, who released him last week after 17 appearances to close out the 2009 season.
With all that he’s heard about Seattle and seen in his two visits with an away side, he’s excited to suit up for the Sounders at Qwest Field.
“It’s a place that a lot of players want to be. The passionate fans create an atmosphere that you want to play in everyday. Sigi’s shown that he’s a winner. He’s won MLS Cups at different organization and he’s a coach that a lot of players want to come play for,” he said. “To have that much success as an expansion team right off the bat doesn’t come along very often.”
With his championship pedigree - in addition to his three trophies he also helped the Revolution reach the MLS Cup Final three straight seasons - he knows a strong team when he sees one.
“You can tell within a couple of days that this team has what it takes to win a championship. Everybody seems to be getting along and taking care of each other. There’s no question the talent is there. The depth is pretty amazing. It’s very competitive and guys are fighting for spots and fighting for each other and that’s what you need,” Noonan said. “They’ve got the right pieces to the puzzle to win an MLS championship.”
Though he just joined the team for training on Monday, Noonan already feels ready to play on Saturday when the Sounders FC faces the New York Red Bulls in a 7:30 kickoff at Qwest Field. He has struggled in the past with injuries, but says he is close to the form of his final season in New England.
“If I’m called upon I feel physically ready to go. I had a good preseason and my body feels good,” he said. “I’ll be right back where I want to be very quickly and I’ll be ready to compete, whether it’s as a starter or off the bench I’ll be excited.”
If he hears a reference to Caddyshack along the way, he won’t mind. His favorite hobby, after all, is hitting the links with friends.
“I enjoy golfing,” he said. “I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy getting out to play some golf.”
He may not be winning any trophies at Bushwood Country Club anytime soon, but a trophy or two with the Sounders FC should do just fine.