CARSON, Calif. – Pat Noonan officially began his coaching career this week as an assistant with the LA Galaxy with one goal in mind: don’t walk into the players’ locker room.
Instead he kept heading toward his new digs, the coaching offices.
“I made sure of it to walk in the right way,” Noonan said with a grin. “It was a little bit odd, but I’ll get used to it.”
Noonan’s inclusion on the coaching staff – he likely will assume the responsibilities of former assistant Jovan Kirovski, who recently was named the club’s first-ever technical director and will oversee scouting – officially brings to a close a 10-year MLS playing career in which he scored 42 goals and had 33 assists in 183 regular-season games. He helped his team reach MLS Cup five times and won a pair of championships.
His new duties do not come without some understandable misgivings, however. Noonan turns only 32 in August and admitted he’ll probably get an itch to play every now and then.
“I’m sure it will take a little time getting used to coming in each day,” he said, “but I think having played here last year and having knowledge of the way things go and the players, that transition will be a lot easier had I been traveling and taken an opportunity somewhere else.
“I think it’s just a matter of maybe not putting the cleats on to play, now just coach and learn from very experienced, successful coaches. I think the transition will help me to forget how much I’ll miss playing.”
Noonan, who because of various injuries was limited to just 10 regular season appearances and one goal in 2012, said he started to seriously think about coaching during the middle part of last season. Casual conversations with Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena on that subject matter turned serious during the offseason, and Arena was happy to bring him aboard.
“I think Pat, in his one year with us, earned the respect of everybody,” Arena said. “He’s a knowledgeable guy in the game. I think he’s eager to become a coach. He offers me a different perspective, which is helpful, of a guy that’s just finished playing.
“He’s young, (32) years old. That’s always interesting to listen to how those coaches see things.”
Noonan, who holds a U.S. Soccer Federation ‘B’ coaching license, said he is getting more and more comfortable with his decision to bring his playing career to a close.
“I’m in a pretty good place, to be quite honest,” he said. “It’s not one of those where I come in and say, ‘Man, I really wish I was playing.’ My body had been beaten up a little bit and I had too many injuries. I think that also made it easier to stop playing.
“I’m very excited. Especially when you talk to people, you can just tell in their tone how lucky they think I am for this opportunity. I’m very excited to learn and see what goes on in the other side of things in the preparation, day in and day out, with training and games. I’m excited for each experience.”