Pat Noonan on FC Cincinnati's rise, his coaching mentors, lessons from his playing career, and St. Louis roots

FC Cincinnati challenged Major League Soccer's futility records in its first three seasons, winning just 14 of 91 games while building a minus-105 goal difference, posting 22 losses in both of its full campaigns -- the first club to lose that many twice -- and finishing at the bottom of the overall table each year.
Enter Pat Noonan.
The former MLS forward, in his first gig as head coach, has guided the Lions into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, using an aggressive, attacking style of play en route to a 9-8-11 record through 28 games. Cincinnati sits in eighth place, one spot out of the postseason but even on points with seventh-place New England, after Saturday's 2-0 victory over visiting Charlotte FC extended its unbeaten streak to seven games and left it with just one loss in 14 outings since the end of May.
He and general manager Chris Albright, who came aboard last October, are transforming the club into one to watch after playing roles -- Albright as technical director, Noonan as an assistant on Jim Curtin's staff -- in the Philadelphia Union's rise as an MLS powerhouse.
Noonan, a three-time All-American at Indiana University, was the Revolution's first-round draft choice in 2003 and played an integral role as the club won a U.S. Open Cup title and reached three successive MLS Cup finals before stints in Norway and with the Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy.
He made 15 U.S. national team appearances and was part of the Yanks' 2005 Gold Cup triumph, but injuries limited his effectiveness in the second half of his playing career, although he found success nearly everywhere he went, winning the Supporters' Shield/MLS Cup double with Columbus in 2008, two Open Cups with the Sounders, and closing his playing career in 2012 with an MLS Cup crown in LA.
Noonan joined Bruce Arena's Galaxy staff the following year and assisted the maestro in the U.S. national team's failed 2018 World Cup qualification bid, then spent four years in Philadelphia. He's put together a terrific staff with Cincinnati -- including former San Jose/Houston/interim Galaxy head coach Dominic Kinnear and former Galaxy/LAFC assistant Kenny Arena -- and has a strong squad led by midfielders Luciano Acosta (7 goals and 16 assists after one of each against Charlotte) and Obinna Nwobodo, forwards Brandon Vazquez (16 goals) and Brenner (9 goals) and defender Geoff Cameron.
Soccer America caught up with Noonan to chat about growing up in soccer-rich St. Louis, his success in New England and elsewhere, the lesson he learned during his time in Norway, his evolution as a coach and his mentors along that journey, and the pivotal elements in Cincinnati's rise -- and what he sees for the club's future.
SOCCER AMERICA: You've guided FC Cincinnati through some huge steps forward this season and right into the playoff race. How gratified are you with what you've accomplished thus far?
PAT NOONAN: Look, no disrespect to anything that happened previous to myself and Chris [Albright] taking these roles, but here we are in eighth place. We're just below the playoff line. So while we might be in a better place than in years past at this stage, we're still, I would say, not where we want to be. And we could be, based on performances and how games have played out. Probably we should be at a better spot than we are.
I like the fact that we're in the hunt at this stage in the season. That's important, because there's meaningful games coming up and certainly motivation for our group to be winning games to position ourselves to be a playoff team. So in that regard, I'm pleased. I'm pleased with the progress from when this started in December and then obviously when we were on the field in January. I think the group has made huge strides and experienced a lot in these eight months or so, with winning, with losing, with a lot of firsts as a group. And I think in some ways it's helped us grow and continue to move in a positive direction.
In other ways, you know, we've seen some of the areas where we still need to be better and where we can strengthen the team so that we're a little bit more consistent in our week-to-week performances.
SA: This seems almost like a first season for the club, a new start, with the new technical regime and principles and such superior quality of play. Was there much debris to clean up? Was psychological work needed to breed confidence?

PAT NOONAN: I think it's fair to say there was still some debris. I think when we came in, whether it was, you know, bad contracts or just players that obviously might not be the fit to to what we were doing, there needed to be changes early on, but with also the understanding that we wouldn't be able to make all the moves we might have liked to have made in December and in January and prior to the season starting. But we were well aware of that.
But I also think, and this is the message early on, we have a lot of strong pieces and a lot of good pieces to help the group move in a better direction. So it didn't need to be wholesale changes. It needed to be creating a better culture, certainly getting players to understand how how we want to play, and showing belief in individuals and in the group that we can have success. I think that's important. And it's important that it's not, I guess, a false sense of reality, because when you're telling players or teams [that things] are great, but they don't feel that way or it's obvious that that's not the case, then they're just words. But I do think when we started this project, it was important that these players knew that we were going to believe in them, we were going to work with them, and we were going to expect to step on the field and have success, regardless of of the previous three years in league play.
That was a lot of the messaging early on. There was a lot of messaging about accountability and professionalism and doing things the right way everyday. And that's what winning environments look like. We're still not there, but I think there has been improvements on individual levels and certainly collectively in the time that we've been working together.
I'll also say, in having conversations with ownership and with Jeff [Berding, the co-CEO] and Chris early on, the feeling of being rushed into the league probably was evident in the struggles, with how quickly things happened for FCC becoming an MLS franchise. I think that that played a part in maybe some of the early struggles. But I do think the experiences that Chris and myself have had in this league, in different clubs, and seeing what success looks like in different ways has at least helped for the messaging side of things and the understanding of what type of characters and personalities we need in here and what type of players we're looking forward to help us play in a certain way and to eventually hold trophies.

SA: You come in with a plan, of course. Have you had to alter that plan as you waded into the project?
PAT NOONAN: I think what's been altered or why it's maybe looked a little bit different is the challenges of the summer in the weather. I think early on a lot of what we spoke about was that we were going to be a team that wanted to be creative in how we attack the goal and how we create chances and how we score goals. I think we've been pretty consistent with that throughout the year, in terms of chance creation and the goals we're scoring. I've been pleased with that aspect of our of our team and of our game.
We also talked about being a team that was brave in how we defended, in trying to find ways to defend higher up the field, whether it was our pressure off of opposition goal kicks, whether it was after we were in possession of balls turned over. How could we defend forward? I think early on that was evident in how we were creating turnovers, where we were creating turnovers, and how we were able to to turn that into transition moments.
I think because of just the challenges of the summer in playing in this heat and humidity, it's a struggle for players to maintain that level of intensity and to do it in the same fashion in which we were doing it early on. I think we've gotten away from that a little bit. So we have tried to be clever in how we train to make sure the intensity is still there and how we step on the field and in finding ways to be consistent and defending higher up the field. So I think that's an area where we've dropped off and would like to get back to some of the early successes we were having defensively.
And I think those are two of the primary things that we've looked at. Are we consistent in what we've said from the beginning and how we want to play? And certainly there's many layers that go into how you attack and how you defend. But those are two of the things that we've tried to be consistent with and showing that we want to be a brave team and we want to be a team that's aggressive in attacking the goal.
And I don't want to say “just to entertain the fans,” but it's important that the fans here in this town appreciate the way we play. And I think they see the belief in the group and the work that our guys put in and and are pleased with the effort and and the style at times. Certainly hoping to improve the results along with that.
SA: You've lost just once in the last three months but have won only three times in that 14-game span. How tired are you of ties?
PAT NOONAN: Ties? Yeah, that can wear on you. I'm not pleased with them because of how a lot of them have unfolded. You know, we had a stretch out of that June break where we had a difficult schedule, with midweek, with opponents. And I thought our performances were strong for a majority of that stretch. But we lost out on some important points because of our inability to protect the lead and to manage key moments in the game, you know? After we're scoring goals and concede right away or right before the break, conceding goals at the end of games. We've dropped points because of that.
So a lot of the ties along the way have felt like losses. But I told the group if we're this disappointed with draws, that's a good thing. It's just finding ways to now be better at managing the game, be a little bit more clever and less naive in how we how we see games out and how we think the game to be more successful just in terms of the wins and loss.
SA: How well did you know Chris Albright before joining the staff in Philadelphia?
PAT NOONAN: We just knew each other through national team camps. Obviously, when when you're playing in league, it's only when you're seeing each other, when you're matched up against each other. So in the early days, that was the only times, when we were playing L.A. [Albright's club in 2002-07] when I was with New England. But that was early on in my career, and Chris', as well.
The national team camps is where I would say the friendship began or at least the familiarity with each other began. But it wasn't until Philadelphia when we were working in the same office everyday that the relationship grew. And myself, Chris and Jim [Curtin] worked very closely together. And so going into this role, there was a really good understanding between Chris and myself of what we wanted to be and what we were getting in each other, as far as a GM and a head coach. Certainly, that helped with the transition period, to hit the ground running and and be on the same page in a lot of ways.
SA: How soon were you guys talking after Chris took the GM job in Cincinnati?
PAT NOONAN: We weren't. That didn't unfold until December, when I went through the interview process. There was never side conversations really about, “Hey, you know, let's think about you being the head coach here,” because Chris is smart and is good at what he does. And so that interview process and the vetting process was going to be a long one, and it was going to be one where, because of our relationship, having worked in Philadelphia and our friendship, he's going to do this the right way.
And so it wasn't until he reached out to, you know, say, “Would you be interested?” The ball got rolling then. It wasn't until, I think, early December that that conversation began. And [the Union was] also still competing in the playoffs [when Chris took over]. So nothing was going to happen until until we were done playing.
SA: Last year wasn't good for Cincinnati, but I thought they made some nice moves in creating a foundation, bringing in some personalities that were going to help going forward, especially Lucho Acosta, Brenner and Geoff Cameron.
PAT NOONAN: It's important that you have your core pieces that you know are going to be around and help the club find success and have some familiarity and similarity within the group, so it's not changing all the time. You've got to get those pieces right to be able to to achieve success.
And I think with Lucho, he's been a focal point of how we attack and somebody that we've tried to put pieces around to help balance his qualities in areas where maybe he can get better. And that's the additions of guys like Junior Moreno and Obi [Nwobodo] behind him. And so I think with Geoff and Brenner as well. Geoff's got the experience and the leadership qualities that you need. And with Brenner as a younger player -- a younger, talented player -- it's getting the right pieces and the right staff around a player like him to help him progress and develop as a player.
And I'm very fortunate to have an experienced staff, a staff that's achieved a great deal of success in this league, around me to help move players in the right direction. And I think you can see with Dominic Kinnear, who works with Brandon Vazquez and Brenner all the time, you can see those players continuing to mature and continuing to get better. And Kenny [Arena]'s working with Geoff defensively and the defenders, and you can see in ways where they're improving. We know, again, it's not perfect, but I think part of the reason we're having this conversation is the things that are improving in the club, moving in a better place than than it was eight months ago.
SA: Brandon Vazquez has exploded this year, gotten everyone's attention. What are the biggest steps he's taken?
PAT NOONAN: I think simplifying his game and playing to his strengths. You know, it's sometimes easy to get caught up in the qualities of your teammates and want to emulate that -- you know, Lucho and Brenner, with the way they play the game, it's different than Brandon. For me, he should be playing his game.
He is a physical presence that, with the right movements, can really help the team advance forward with clean hold-up play. He doesn't need to be clever. He doesn't need to always be getting out of 1v1 situations. So when he was early on trying to do too much, it was the messaging of simplifying your game with just your hold-up play and connect your passes, which is going to allow you to get in a position to finish off plays in the box.

I think we've seen continued development in how he runs in the box, the ways in which he creates space for himself or his teammates. So I think that has been probably the area of his game that has been most improved. And, I guess, the part of the game that our team has benefited the most from is what he's done in the box.
And so he continues to think about ways to score goals, and he also puts in a lot of time after training with his finishing, with certain movements, with his touch, to be able to create a shot with how he locates the keeper. All these little details that good strikers, the best strikers, do so well. He's continuing to find ways to to improve so he can be more consistent in finishing plays off.
SOCCER AMERICA: At what point did you know you would be a coach?

PAT NOONAN: That's a good question, Scott. I think early on, maybe even before I was an assistant under Bruce [Arena], the way I played the game, but the way I led by example or by how I communicated, I think those were just early signs that if I were to go into the coaching world, that those are important leadership qualities in how you communicate, being honest, being respectful.
But then once Bruce approached me to to join his staff [with the Galaxy in 2013], I think that was a really early confidence boost of, “OK, here's a pretty successful coach in America asking if I would be wanting to be a part of his staff.” So that was, early on, important for me to understand, “OK, if he sees something in me, you know, there's something there.” I look back now at those days, and I didn't know shit. You think you know everything as a player, but then when you walk in a different door and you realize, “Oh, there's a lot that goes into this.” It becomes pretty evident that I had a lot to learn.
And so I think those early years under Bruce were beneficial in me knowing or finding my place, knowing what I was good at and what I needed to improve at. I had no problem having conversations with players or seeing the game in ways where I thought I could help give information to put players in a better position to have success. But it was how you organize the training, what's your plan in how you develop your style of play, how you improve your group, how you lead in so many different ways. Those were things that I had no experience in and needed to really use my years as an assistant to learn.
I think just the early years under Bruce kind of helped me to understand that this is something that I think I could make a career of and find success.
SA: If one could choose their mentors, could you do better than Bruce? But looking at who you played for, as well, going back to Jerry Yeagley at Indiana University. Stevie Nicol at New England, Sigi Schmid at Columbus and Seattle, Bruce with the Galaxy. And then part of that excellent Philadelphia staff led by Jim Curtin. You've been fortunate in the guys you've worked with.

PAT NOONAN: Oh, there's no question. I'm not sitting here in the position and talking to you today without the opportunities that I have to work under great coaches.
Like you said, I could go all the way back to college and what I learned not just as a soccer player, but as a person, from Coach Yeagley, in doing things the right way and being a good teammate and being a good leader and having expectations of success and greatness and everything that you do every time you step on the field. And then, how that translated to me being able to find some success early on in my playing career.
The opportunity to work under Stevie Nicol, Player of the Year [by the Football Writers Association in 1999, while at Liverpool] and somebody that's won trophies at the highest level. You realize what an incredible player's manager he was. And then moving on to to Sigi and Bruce and the man-management, the attention to detail, how to get the right people around you that you can trust to get everything moving in the same direction and everybody understanding their roles.
I've been very fortunate, and those were all successful environments. And so it helped me to understand not just what it looked like, but, consistently, I was able to be in winning environments and see little nuances and little changes in how each of them went about their craft in creating those successful environments. I've certainly taken a lot of things from all of those different stops and under all those different managers to kind of fine-tune and and mold my own way of coaching and way of leading.
SA: When did you feel you were ready to be a head coach?

PAT NOONAN: I think the last couple of years, if an opportunity presented itself, that I would feel comfortable stepping into a head-coaching position. I went through the interview process on a few different occasions, and it was certainly nice to go through that experience, to understand the preparation to go into how you communicate “this is my plan, this is why you should put your trust in me.”
I think taking all the experiences from, certainly, you can go back all the way to playing, [and then] coaching under Bruce and then with the national team and then going to Philly with a totally different model and philosophy. That kind of helped me have an idea of what it looks like from two different sides and the appreciation of the patience and youth development. But also the understanding, the expectation from the LA days, where the expectation was to win a title every year, and you're dealing with big stars and more attention. I think there was a lot that I learned from those two completely different approaches, to understand what kind of coach I wanted to be.

SA: What were the biggest adjustments going from assistant to head coach?
PAT NOONAN: As an assistant, I always say I'm not the head coach. My opinions for Bruce or for Jim were recommendations. And they were, “If I'm in your position, this is what I would do.” I tried not to ever say, “We have to do this.” We don't have to do anything, because I'm not the one standing up in front of the camera or the microphone when things don't go well.
Now [as head coach] you're making the final decisions. Not just the final decisions, and it's not just the starting XI and the reserve group. It's the conversations that you're having with your medical staff and the-sports science staff and your communications staff, your equipment staff. So now those decisions, I don't want to say they stop with me, but now I'm involved in all of those discussions, which wasn't the case before. So there's just more conversations and more people that need your attention and need your opinion. And I think that's the biggest difference in the day to day, is just more conversations with more departments to make sure that we're moving in the right direction and on the same page.
SA: How big of an asset is having Dominic Kinnear on your staff, a guy who has been in your shoes and won trophies?
PAT NOONAN: He's a huge asset. It's been incredible to work with him. Better than he was even advertised. You know, I was fortunate enough to work with him on a pro course. And so that, outside of always competing against each other, was the first real stretch of time that I was able to spend with him. So I think that helped.
When this opportunity presented itself, to be really, really pleased that he was available and interested in working with me. I ask him questions all the time. You know, “What would you do in this situation?” Because he's been here. He's been in my seat and he's had success. He's won championships. And so it would be silly for me to not take advantage of his knowledge and his experience in our day-to-day work. I'm asking him stuff all the time, and he's great. He's honest and he knows the challenges that you face as a head coach. And so the information I get from him, the feedback is always honest and with my best interest in mind.
SA: How satisfied were you with your playing career? Did you get what you wanted out of it?
PAT NOONAN: No. I think I would have liked more longevity. I enjoyed the early successes. I kind of was a little bit more under the radar. I know I came from a big university, and I was a first-round pick. But I don't think people would expect me to be necessarily to be a national team player.
But I think early on, just the way I went about my business and working for the team, the way I prided myself in how I defended and the creativity that I could bring to the attacking side of the ball. I think early on in my career, I found success because of those things, with the end goal of wanting to hold trophies. Winning was important to me. And being a part of winning environments and holding trophies was and still is why I do this. Along with the relationships.
So early on in my career, I was pleased with the on-field performances, but then injuries kind of hindered my ability to maintain a starting role and continue. And I guess it hindered my ability to continuously and on a more consistent basis help my team achieve success on the field. So I would have liked to have had a healthier career. But I also know there's things that I could have done better to prevent that, in looking back. If that was the case, if I was able to be healthy, I think I could have contributed more and played longer. I don't want to say they're regrets, but certainly things that I would have liked, in looking back at it now, was a longer career and a healthier one.
SA: You enjoyed success everywhere you went in MLS, played with a lot of very good teams, won trophies. Three straight MLS Cup finals in New England -- winning would have made those warmer memories, I'm sure -- and then you end up in Columbus and win the title. Then you're at the start of what Seattle has done in MLS. And you finish at the height of the Galaxy's greatest era. That's impressive, but you also were bouncing from club to club after leaving New England, and that had to be tough.
PAT NOONAN: Right? It was. Winners breed winners. I was in a lot of successful environments, and I think coaches see that in players or can pick up the phone and understand, “What kind of character and personality am I getting. Is this somebody that's going to help us achieve our goals?” And I think that was the type of player and person I was, whether I was a starter, whether I was a reserve. I think I understood how to play a role to help the team have success, through performances or just how I communicated to others and how I pushed others.

I think all of my stops as a player and coach with different clubs, they were successful environments. So I was certainly fortunate to be in those environments. But I also think I played a part in helping those teams achieve success, despite not being the star player. So I think it's important to be able to play a role. When you have players, coaches, whoever it is in this line of work that we do, if you're willing to play a role and do it for the right reasons, invest in the group and push people the right way, I think that carries over. You kind of get the best out of people when you take that approach. I think I was able to provide that in in each of those environments. But certainly knowing that it wasn't me that was leading the way. You know, you've got to play a role.
So, again, I was very fortunate. And once you see it, like I did early on with those New England teams, of just how you get to a final. You know, we won an Open Cup. We came up short on those MLS Cup finals. But I think that group understood, and I understood, what success looked like and how to get there. And then you take those experiences, and when you find the next one, I think you become a little bit more aware of the approach that you need to take to see the best outcome and to find the best outcome and to hold a trophy. I kind of took all those early experiences with New England and brought them everywhere I went in what the day-to-day environment looked like, the competition, the locker room, the importance of relationships, the importance of trust.
SA: You spent a little time in Norway, with Aalesund. How did that impact you, perhaps in the way you saw the game after being in a different culture, different environment, different way of seeing things?
PAT NOONAN: A greater appreciation for being the outsider. In my first five years in New England, it was an American league and I was an American player. There was comfort, there was familiarity. But when I went to Norway, I was an outsider. And so understanding how to step into a new environment and play a role and be a piece to something new.
I think the harsh lesson that I learned was the understanding [that] a lot of those players and the staff members don't know me. They might have done some research in the process of of bringing me on board, but they really don't know who I am. So you need to earn the trust and respect of your new teammates, the new coaches.
I think early on in preseason, I had a really poor approach to a game that I played in where I thought I wasn't going to be a part of it, just based on workload. And I performed really poorly and wasn't able to find my way back into the starting lineup. And so that was a good lesson as to the importance of having the right approach everyday, especially as an outsider in a new environment. So I think that's helped me since that moment to have a better appreciation for the outsiders that are coming into MLS or anybody that's coming into a new environment, the importance of giving that time and understanding that approach in earning trust and respect from others is so vital when you're a new addition.
SA: Were you looking to return to MLS, or did the move to Columbus happen because of circumstance?
PAT NOONAN: Circumstance. I would have liked to have played that out longer. I wasn't sure I was going to be given an opportunity with the coach at the time. And understandably, based on that situation I just spoke of. I ended up working my way back to Columbus, and I think [Soren Akeby, the club's Swedish manager] ended up getting fired three weeks later. So maybe with a little bit more patience, it could have turned out differently with a new opportunity and a new coach.
But in looking back, I think it was the right reason to come back. And that was just a play where I stepped into a team in Columbus that was established and having success. So the minutes were hard to come by, but it was because the group that was on the field when I arrived was doing great things. So the reason for coming back, I think, was the right one, you know, but it didn't necessarily translate to more playing time.
SA: Let's go back to the beginning. When did you start playing soccer? What was it that got you into it? And what was it that got you serious about it?

PAT NOONAN: I utilize my parents for those early stories of, you know, what you were like as a kid and at what point did it start for me? It was 2 or 3 years old. It was early on where I think I just had such a desire to play sports and compete. I think it came naturally to me playing soccer, playing baseball. I was playing a lot of different things. But soccer was the one sport where things just came naturally to me in how I played the game and how I was a creative attacking player and my ability to kind of see the game a little bit different that allowed me to maybe get some oohs and ahhs early on.
So it started very early, and I loved playing in games. I had a hunger for scoring goals, and I had a hunger for scoring the dramatic goal, late in the game. That fueled me. And that was the whole way. You know, from the club days [at storied youth club Scott Gallagher] to the high school days, I was always fortunate to play in meaningful games and competitive games in environments where it was exciting and you felt that adrenaline and that pressure. I think I thrived in those moments as a youth player, and certainly that early success in playing club and high school then led to those opportunities to be scouted by the likes of Indiana and other big universities where I had the opportunity to go and be in successful environments.
SA: To play in a club like Scott Gallagher and grow up in St. Louis, which has such a soccer tradition and has produced so many players, and have so many good players alongside you when you were coming up -- what a great environment to absorb the game.
PAT NOONAN: No question. You know, again, I'm very thankful and I was very fortunate just to be born where I was born, in a hotbed of soccer. It kind of had that windshield of past greats that had gone on and done so many good things in the game as players, as coaches. The environment that I grew up in, in terms of just the games and the competitiveness and the pressure and the audience, it was all a part of the St. Louis soccer community.
I loved it. I loved being a part of big games as a as a young player. You know, we'd have a thousand people at a high school soccer game, for a division game or a cup final with 3,000 to 5,000 people, the state championship games. Those were incredible memories. But that's just me being fortunate to have grown up in St. Louis and experienced those things early on that, certainly, not everybody has the privilege to to experience.
SA: Experiencing that and seeing what can be, if you're of the right mind, just makes you so much more of a student of the game.
PAT NOONAN: It's like any walk of life. When it's a part of your life from a very young age, that's that's what you become familiar with. And if you enjoy it, you have this drive. I had this drive to to find success in playing soccer. And, so, how neat that we can be here talking 35, 40 years later about the journey of St. Louis and my club days and the high school days and how that was kind of the beginning for me being able to to have a decent playing career and now an opportunity to coach professionally.

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Scott French interview series ...
Casey Stoney on opportunity to build Wave and improve women's soccer standards
Jim Curtin on his coaching rise from toddlers to pros, what makes Philly special, and Chicago locker room lessons
Freddy Juarez on his unique path to the Real Salt Lake helm, growing up in Las Cruces, and the Buzz Lagos influence
Bruce Arena  on building winners, his coaching role models, and the honor of national team duty
Peter Vermes' journey through American soccer's evolution and his pursuit of excellence
Caleb Porter on how MLS challenges coaches like no other league in the world
Steve Cherundolo on fame in Germany, World Cups, and coming home
Brian Schmetzer on Seattle soccer culture, his family and his mentors
Paul Krumpe on college soccer issues and Olympic & World Cup experiences
Ralph Perez on his 46-year coaching journey
Josh Wolff on launching Austin FC with former teammate Claudio Reyna
Landon Donovan on lessons gained as a rookie coach in a uniquely difficult year
Dominic Kinnear on two decades of coaching in MLS and the path that led him

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SA: If you look two, maybe three years ahead -- whatever time frame you think makes sense -- what do you see from FC Cincinnati? What are you driving toward? What do you think will be?
PAT NOONAN: You know, the start of a consistent winning culture. Hopefully, that will involve us holding the trophy. You know, again, I said it before, that's why I do this, is to be a champion.
It's not for myself. It's for us. This is a team sport. And I love having a role in the quest for success, in the quest for titles. And so I hope that we're a champion in two or three years' time, in some capacity. I hope that this club is in a very stable position in terms of the people that we have in the building that will allow us to maintain success for many years. I think that's very important.
I hope to, two or three years from now, progress and develop into a better coach that has better ideas and has utilized these early experiences as a head coach to be a better leader, to be a better coach, that has surrounded himself with the right people to achieve the goals that we set out. I think it's important to have everybody moving in the right direction. And I think we've certainly made improvements there.
The foundation of any successful working environment, for me, is the right people. And so we'll continue to improve in that regard. And finding the right players to fit what we're about and what we what we value here at FCC.

SA: Finding real success in Cincinnati would be fantastic, with that fan base. People who don't know just don't know how big of a soccer city Cincinnati is.
PAT NOONAN: No, they don't. And one thing, and you saying that, my hope is that in two or three years that we have the best game-day environment in Major League Soccer. I'm very confident we can get there.
I've seen the growth of that game-day environment [this season]. And the only way we can sell out that stadium is winning games. So I'm certainly well aware of that. I think there are some good steps that we're taking and some ideas that we have to make this the best home environment in Major League Soccer.

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