There is something to be said for playing in front of your hometown crowd – a certain pride that exists in your local club and a desire to succeed for the family, friends and neighbors who cheer for the same team.
With the acquisitions of Lamar Neagle via trade and Homegrown signing DeAndre Yedlin, the Sounders FC now has three players from the Seattle area on their squad, with Neagle and Yedlin joining goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
“It’s always great when you can play in your hometown. Being able to play here is a great thing for them, but it’s also a good thing for the club,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “If you can promote local talent, there is always that special connection between the community and a player.”
That was shown in spades when the Sounders signed US National Team legend and Olympia product Kasey Keller to man the nets and serve as captain for the club’s first three seasons in Major League Soccer.
The opportunity to play in front of his home crowd was a big draw for Keller, who now serves as color commentator on Sounders FC radio and television broadcasts.
That 2009 team also featured goalkeeper Chris Eylander and, at times, Kevin Forrest and Neagle. Since then, though, the Sounders have never featured more than two Seattle-area products on their roster until now.
On Sunday, the club announced a trade for Neagle, bringing the Federal Way native back to the Sounders for a third stint. When he reports to camp, the midfielder will have been in Sounders training camp in each of the club’s five years.
While having a local talent is a good draw for the team, there is much more to the trade than bringing back a native son.
“He’s a local boy and a guy who did well for us. It gives us a little more depth on the wing, maybe (more) than we even need. Lamar can also play up front. He’s shown that capability,” Schmid said. “His versatility and his ability and his desire to be back home are all things that made it come together and work. We’re happy to have him back.”
Neagle is expected to join the team either Tuesday or Wednesday.