Pat Noonan has been named the 2023 MLS Coach of the Year amid FC Cincinnati’s incredible turnaround during his two-year tenure. Here’s what you need to know:
- Noonan’s squad became the first team to qualify for this year’s MLS Cup playoffs and has the best record in the MLS (20-9-5) and the most points (69).
- He led Cincinnati as they captured the Supporters’ Shield, the club’s first trophy since joining MLS in 2019, and a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
- In 2022, the club hired Noonan ahead of the season and went on to make the playoffs for the first time. This fall, he signed a long-term extension with Cincinnati.
Leadership and results. 👏
It’s been a dream season so far for the Supporters’ Shield winners. Pat Noonan is the 2023 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year. pic.twitter.com/aqO5Tu7Zgn
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 21, 2023
How Noonan has turned the club around
FC Cincinnati were a laughing stock in MLS before Noonan took over as coach. In two short years, Cincy clinched their first-ever playoff berth, won their first-ever playoff game and won their first-ever trophy. Noonan is rewarded by being named Coach of the Year. He was voted ahead of finalists Bradley Carnell (St. Louis City) and Wilfried Nancy (Columbus Crew).
FC Cincinnati ran away with the Shield race by the summer, essentially leading wire to wire with 69 points. The team is led by several players that Noonan inherited from the previous regime, including MLS MVP-favorite Lucho Acosta, forward Brandon Vazquez and star wingback Álvaro Barreal. All three played the best soccer of their careers under Noonan.
Noonan’s Cincy teams have thrived with a high-pressing and transition style, most often playing out of a 3-5-2. Cincinnati advanced easily past the New York Red Bulls in round one of the 2023 playoffs. They host the Philadelphia Union, the club Noonan was hired from, in the conference semifinals on Saturday. Philadelphia eliminated Cincinnati last year. — Tom Bogert, MLS staff writer
(Photo: Katie Stratman / USA Today)