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Noonan's new role: scorer

FOXBOROUGH -- The Revolution's veteran strikers have been either injury-prone or simply jinxed this season. Chris Brown and Taylor Twellman are out for the year with broken left feet, Joe-Max Moore (left knee) has been limited to 16 starts, and Dario Fabbro has yet to score in five games since being acquired from Kansas City.

But Pat Noonan has not only been durable, he has converted seven goals in all competitions, second on the team, in his first professional season. Noonan has been in the starting lineup since since scoring in a 2-1 loss to San Jose Sept. 7, converting twice in a 2-1 victory over the MetroStars Sept. 13 as the Revolution began a four-game unbeaten streak. The Revolution then tied Colorado (0-0), and rallied to top Columbus (3-2 in overtime) on late goals by Moore, Shalrie Joseph, and Joe Franchino. Noonan scored his fourth goal in five games as the Revolution defeated Dallas, 4-1, last Saturday.

Noonan will be paired with Fabbro as starting strikers when the Revolution meet D.C. United today at Gillette Stadium. The United (38 points) and the Revolution (36) lead Columbus (32) in the race for the final two playoff places in the Eastern Conference with three matches remaining in the regular season.

"This is a chance to play but I don't necessarily feel I have to score goals," Noonan said. "Somebody will step up for us, like Joey and Shalrie did. It's just a matter of who.

"They might mark me tighter. Whoever is up top, they are going to pay attention to and do what they can to stop our attack and our strikers."

Noonan has been among the Revolution's most dependable players during an unpredictable season. Twellman missed several games with sinusitis, then facial fractures, before suffering a stress fracture at Dallas last week. Brown scored three goals in his first Revolution start Aug. 30 but also suffered the first of a series of foot injuries in the game. Moore has missed games because of suspensions (he received a straight red card for the first time in his professional career) and ankle, calf, and knee injuries.

"Those were fluke injuries to Taylor and Chris Brown," Noonan said. "Taylor doesn't get injured very often but he has had a couple things keep him out this year. But you can't worry about injuries. Someone has to step up and score goals."

Moore has scored only once since July 16, but his free kick launched the Revolution rally over Columbus, a result that allowed the team to overtake the Crew and escape the Eastern Conference cellar.

"I didn't go to my left in that game and you can't get away with that in the long term in this league," Moore said. "I still can't shoot with my left foot. I just hope the boys get us into the playoffs. We are in much better shape than we were two weeks ago. With the talent we have here we would have a hard time screwing it up."

Twellman has scored 40 goals in two seasons, two behind Moore's career team record. Twellman converted a league-leading 15 goals this season.

"Taylor is the best goal scorer in the league right now and we will miss him more than anybody," Moore said. "I have been impressed with him all year. He has done what he did last year." . . .

Forward Chris Bagley, a former Globe All-Scholastic at Archbishop Williams, signed with the Revolution as a developmental player. Bagley, 23, played collegiately at Saint Anselm, and with the Charleston Battery of the A League this season.

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