Major League Soccer

Pat Noonan's MLS experience key to FC Cincinnati appointment

Chris Smith
Noonan has been around the block in MLS as a coach and a player.
Noonan has been around the block in MLS as a coach and a player. / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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While it may be a trope in other leagues, 'experience' is perhaps one of the most important variables in MLS.

Complex roster restrictions, immense travel commitments, and playing in contrasting environments week on week are just the tip of the iceberg that makes this a league like no other. The more you know, the better your chances of success.

It was with that in mind that FC Cincinnati appointed Philadelphia Union assistant Pat Noonan as their new head coach.

"We prioritized MLS experience," the club's new general manager Chris Albright said at a press conference (via MLSsoccer.com).

"We met with a lot of fantastic candidates, vetted a lot of candidates, had finalists come in the market, meet ownership. In the end, Pat was the best choice for the job. He rose above the other candidates.

"Obviously his record in this league and his record of always being a consistent winner, certainly his knowledge of how we want to play, his diligence and hard work and effort he puts into the game, and really the cultural fit for ownership, for this city, for this place – it was really a perfect match in that way."

Not only has Noonan been in the league in a coaching capacity since 2013 - taking in spells with LA Galaxy and Union during that time, as well as coaching the USMNT in 2017 - he also notched almost 200 games in MLS as a forward during his playing days.

As such, he's pretty much seen and dealt with anything MLS can throw at you.

"When you don't know the league and the challenges that you face as far as the roster construction, as far as the travel, the conditions you face in certain markets – altitude, heat, humidity – that can be tough to navigate," said Noonan.

"And I think when you've been a part of that, and I've been part of it for 18 years, you find ways to succeed. And the experiences along the way are valuable to figuring things out. So I think that's where my previous experience as a player and a coach in this league have positioned me to be ready to take over as the head coach for FC Cincinnati."

Regardless of his experience, Noonan has a job on his hands turning Cincinnati around. The club has finished rock-bottom of the overall standings in each of their three MLS seasons so far, conceding a whopping 185 goals and scoring just 80 in 91 games.

But with a new GM and head coach in place, and the atmosphere of TQL Stadium to look forward to in 2022, perhaps it's time to draw a line underneath the past?

As Noonan puts it: "The past is the past. It has no bearing on our plans for the future."

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