Sunday was special for FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan because he returned to the stadium he once played in to coach against a man who has greatly influenced him.
Noonan knows Gillette Stadium well, having played there for five seasons after being drafted by the New England Revolution in 2003. He’s had the opportunity to come back on multiple occasions as both a player and coach. Sunday marked his second trip as a head coach.
“It’s always nice to be back,” Noonan told The Bent Musket. “[I have] plenty of good memories on this field, in this building. I enjoy coming back.”
During his playing career, Noonan regularly partnered with Taylor Twellman, who was also in the building on Sunday, to create one of the best strike forces in the league. This led to many wins, most notably during the postseason. Noonan reminisced about the Revs’ 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire and their comeback victory over the New York MetroStars.
Coaching against the Revolution also meant that Noonan got to go against Bruce Arena, who he worked with at the L.A. Galaxy and U.S. Men’s National Team. Arena has had a profound impact on Noonan’s career.
“It’s a neat experience [to coach against Arena] because he’s someone who has obviously meant a lot to me,” Noonan explained. “Not just in my coaching career, but as a player and in life off the field. I enjoy the opportunity to see our teams compete against each other. That means a lot to me because I’m not on that sideline without his mentorship in my coaching career.”
Arena has accomplished a lot with many different teams. He won two MLS Cups with D.C. United and three with the L.A. Galaxy. He captured the Supporters’ Shield four times, once with D.C and New England and twice with L.A. Of course, he led the U.S. Men’s National Teams to two World Cups.
A lot can be said about Arena’s ability to build a successful team. Noonan provided some insight into what makes his mentor such a special coach.
“That’s a long list,” Noonan said. “I think you’ve probably heard a lot of it already before, but his ability to create a winning environment. He knows what kind of players he wants and how he wants to play. [He has] a great eye for talent. He knows how to motivate. He knows how to get the most out of his group. He knows how to treat people to get everybody moving in the same direction. That’s why I think every stop that he’s had there’s been success along the way.”