Colorado had sought another attacking option since the preseason. By acquiring Columbus forward Pat Noonan on Monday, the Rapids finally found what they needed. Kyle McCarthy discusses the move with Colorado technical director Paul Bravo before previewing an attractive midweek clash between Seattle and D.C. United.By Kyle McCarthy
Colorado technical director Paul Bravo knew his team needed another attacking option during the preseason and started scouring the market to fill the hole. He just couldn't find the right player to fit the team's needs.
Bravo and the Rapids believe they found that player on Monday when they acquired Columbus forward Pat Noonan in exchange for a first-round draft pick and allocation money.
Noonan possessed all of the qualities Bravo wanted. Bravo said he believes Noonan is “an impact guy” who improves the Rapids at the top end of the roster rather than bolstering the side in a reserve role. His versatility – the former New England and Aalesunds attacker can line up as a second striker, an attacking midfielder or a wide player on either flank – appealed to a team that lacks attacking depth. Most of all, Noonan added something just a little bit different than what the Rapids already have.
“The type of guy we were looking for was a guy who could play between the lines,” Bravo said by phone on Tuesday.
First-choice strikers Omar Cummings and Conor Casey are more advanced players, comfortable with prodding the last line of the defense as a tandem. With Cummings (raw speed) and Casey (brute force), opponents know what they're going to get. Noonan's creativity adds a joker to the pack. Noonan prefers to float in different spaces and possesses the ability to supply those frontrunners with an option between the midfield and the front line. Noonan can also provide a viable threat in a more advanced role while Cummings (Jamaica) and Casey (United States) likely play in the Gold Cup.
Those absences – with Cummings an almost certain absentee and Casey a probable departure – will postpone the question of where Noonan will best fit for the Rapids in the long-term. While Noonan's versatility could find him any number of resting places in the Rapids' starting XI, he is most likely settle into the attacking midfield role Mehdi Ballouchy currently fills. Given his vision, his movement and his recent experience as Guillermo Barros Schelotto's understudy in Columbus, it's a reasonable fit.
As for Noonan, he needs games wherever Rapids coach Gary Smith sees fit to play him. An ill-fated move to Norway cost Noonan the first six months of 2008 before he engineered a move back to MLS. Once he arrived, he found his path to the Columbus first-team blocked by Barros Schelotto and, to a lesser extent, Alejandro Moreno. The Crew couldn't keep him at his salary ($175,008, according to players' union documents), considering the fact he had started just two games this season after suffering a back injury and wasn't likely to find a regular home in the Crew starting lineup. With this trade, Noonan has the chance to reestablish his form and justify his hefty deal by getting regular match action. His MLS career (38 goals, 32 assists in 135 games) suggests he has the ability to do just that.
The former U.S. national team player is expected to be the first of a few signings the Rapids will make over the next month or two. Bravo pointed out that the Rapids didn't exhaust all of their available resources in the Noonan deal.
“We're in a good spot financially,” Bravo said. “We've set ourselves up to add more. We have some wiggle room.”
With that wiggle room, Bravo said he'd like to add another player in each department. Bravo said the goal, as with Noonan, is to add quality players at the top end of the roster to create more competition within the squad as the Rapids continue their push towards the playoffs.
Around the League
- Seattle and D.C. United clash tonight at Qwest Field (10:30p.m., ESPN2) in an enticing midweek tilt. With SuperLiga starting over the weekend, the match is the only midweek encounter in a six-game slate.
- The lifebloods of the respective teams – Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso and D.C. United's Ben Olsen – could play increased roles in the match after missing time in recent weeks. Alonso played 15 minutes in Saturday's 2-1 win over San Jose after recovering from a quadriceps injury and could start tonight, according to Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. Olsen is expected to return – most likely as a substitute – from a hamstring injury on United's road swing through Seattle and Colorado this week.
- United forward Jaime Moreno didn't make the trip after suffering a hamstring injury in Saturday night's 2-1 win over Chicago.
- Seattle forward Nate Jaqua is expected to return to the side after missing the San Jose win through suspension.
- United goalkeeper Josh Wicks has given up just three goals in his past four starts after seizing the number one job. Wicks also merited consideration for player of the week honors this week after a stellar performance against the Fire.
- Although Seattle and United have never met, United has played at Qwest Field once before. United played Real Madrid in a friendly in Seattle back in 2006.
- Both teams picked up morale-building results at the weekend, but United had to make the quick cross-country trip. If Alonso starts, Seattle may use the boost of his full-time return – and his much needed ball-hawking skills against a possession-oriented United side – to snatch the win. If not, a draw seems the most likely result.
- Former Colorado goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul has resurfaced on trial in New York. Coundoul, 27, attended high school in New York City and attended the University of Albany, so this is a logical landing spot for the out-of-contract keeper. If the Red Bulls decide they want to keep Coundoul, they'd likely need to take two steps: (1) acquire his rights from Colorado (Coundoul didn't accept the club's contract offer during the offseason, so the Rapids are due compensation if he seeks a move to another MLS club) and (2) unload Jon Conway to free up cap and roster space.
- If there was ever a player built for New York's collection of track stars, it's Johann Smith. Fortunately for the Red Bulls, former U.S. youth international Smith is now available after being released by Toronto FC on Tuesday. Smith never really established himself in winger-needy Toronto and never really showed why he was worth the allocation used to acquire him last season.
- Former New York short-timer Tom Parratt turned up on trial with FC Dallas on Tuesday. Parratt, 23, was most recently on the books at Queen of the South in the Scottish First Division. Parratt spent time with the Red Bulls during preseason, but failed to win a contract.
- Visa issues could rule Cornell Glen out of San Jose's match against I-5 rivals Los Angeles on Saturday, according to Center Line Soccer.
- Real Salt Lake back-up goalkeeper Chris Seitz is expected to miss the next four to six weeks after suffering a separated right shoulder.
- The eight remaining MLS teams in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup discovered their opponents after the second round matches were played on Tuesday night. For full details, check out usopencup.com.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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