After four seasons as one of the Union’s top assistant coaches, Pat Noonan left the team Tuesday to become FC Cincinnati’s new manager.
His move was not surprising. It has been rumored for months, and Noonan has been a candidate for a number of managerial vacancies around MLS over the last few years, including the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake.
In the eight years since Noonan ended a distinguished playing career, he has served as an assistant coach for the Union, the U.S. national team, and the Los Angeles Galaxy — the last two of those under Bruce Arena, for whom he played with the Galaxy in his last year on the field.
Cincinnati became an obvious potential destination as soon as the club hired Chris Albright from the Union to be its new general manager in October. Albright was Union front office’s second-in-command through three administrations, and got to know Noonan well.
“Pat has been integral to helping the players execute the club’s philosophy on the field, and has brought his exceptional attacking acumen as a player to a young group that has improved each season he has been with the club,” Union manager Jim Curtin said in a statement. “He is more than deserving of this chance and ready to be a head coach. While we’ll greatly miss him here, I know he’ll be successful going forward as he starts this new challenge and wish him all the best.”
There was a plot twist in late November when Albright made a brazen attempt to buy Curtin out of his Union contract. It was no surprise that the Union rebuffed that. Albright then made the hire that made sense all along.
“Pat has done an incredible job during his time with the Union and has been an important piece to the team’s recent successes,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said. “His tactical coaching style and investment in his players have set him up for a successful future. He has our appreciation for the work he has done here and [we] wish him the best in Cincinnati.”
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Noonan, 41, thanked the Union for “an incredible chapter and an incredible experience in my coaching career,” and praised Curtin for sharing a “similar vision in how we see the game and what kind of environment and culture we want to create.”
We’ll find out on Wednesday when Noonan and the Union will cross paths next year. MLS will release its 2022 schedule that day, with an expected announcement time of 2 p.m.
Spared in expansion draft
Charlotte FC didn’t take any Union players in its expansion draft on Tuesday night, though the team did pick three players from other Eastern Conference foes.
The five players taken by the new club were Austin FC forward McKinze Gaines, Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes, D.C. United defender Joseph Mora (who was out of contract), Los Angeles FC defender Tristan Blackmon, and New York City FC forward Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
But at least two of those players won’t end up playing in Charlotte, as the club flipped them elsewhere for significant cash. Blackmon headed to Vancouver for $475,000 spread over two years, and Tajouri-Shradi — the biggest name called on the night — headed to LAFC for $400,000 just hours after NYCFC’s MLS Cup title celebration at City Hall.
Union forward Jack de Vries made his first-team debut with Italy’s Venezia, where he’s on loan until next summer, on Tuesday. He played the last 14 minutes of a 2-1 win over second-tier club Ternana in the second round of the Coppa Italia, The 19-year-old recorded 10 touches, one shot, and one well-earned yellow card for a hard tackle in the 80th minute.
A product of the Union academy, de Vries went on loan to Venezia last summer and has mainly been with the club’s youth team. He’s one of three Americans the club signed last summer, along with midfielders Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann. Both of them have earned regular first-team playing time lately, and Busio has become part of the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifying squad.
Venezia’s analytics chief, Alexander Menta, hails from West Chester. His work helped the club return to Serie A this season after 19 years out of Italy’s top flight.
Locals in NWSL draft pool
Notable names include Rutgers defender Gabby Provenzano (Sergeantsville, N.J.), Temple defender Marissa DiGenova (King of Prussia), Wake Forest midfielder Giovanna DeMarco (Gwynedd Valley), Virginia Tech midfielder Emily Gray (Sewell), and South Carolina forward Luciana Zullo (Flemington).
Also on the board from local schools are Drexel forward Reneaeh Campbell and Princeton forward Tatum Gee.
Florida State star midfielder Jaelin Howell, who already has two senior U.S. national team caps, is expected to be the No. 1 pick by the expansion San Diego Wave. She won the MAC Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s Heisman, last year and is likely to win it again this year after leading the Seminoles to their second national title in the last four years.
» READ MORE: The USWNT's next era of players has great potential