When it was announced that Lamar Neagle had been traded to the Sounders FC over the weekend, the Federal Way native had not yet had the chance to tell his mother and grandmother that he would be coming home.
When he finally did get ahold of his mother, she still wasn’t convinced.
“My mom thought I was lying,” Neagle laughed after his first training session back with the Sounders on Tuesday. “She couldn’t believe me.”
Neagle, 25, did some light work on the side on Tuesday after travelling across the continent from Montreal on Monday. As the team traveled to Arizona for the second phase of training camp, he trained in full with the team on Wednesday.
It marks his fifth preseason with the Sounders and third stint with his hometown team.
He joined the team in 2009 after finishing school at UNLV, but missed out on a roster spot in 2010 after training with the team all through preseason. He spent that season earning MVP honors in the USL-2 with the champion Charleston Battery. At the conclusion of that season he went to Finland, where he scored two goals in five matches for Mariehamn before returning to Seattle for training camp in 2011 and another opportunity to play for the Sounders.
He had a breakout year in 2011, notching five goals and two assists in 23 appearances. He came into camp in 2012 carrying the confidence from that season and was poised to continue that success.
However, the opportunity arose for Seattle to acquire Eddie Johnson from the Montreal Impact and Montreal was asking for Neagle and Mike Fucito in return for the US National Team striker.
So in the middle of training camp, Neagle packed his bag and joined the Impact. He knew, however, that it wouldn’t be the last time he would wear the Rave Green.
“I felt like I would be back here eventually. I didn’t expect it to happen this fast,” he said. “Hopefully I found a place to settle down and will be here for a while.”
Throughout his year in Montreal, he held no ill-will for the Sounders, knowing that being traded was part of the business of being a professional soccer player, though his goal against the Sounders in a 4-1 win for the Impact in June was rewarding. During that match at Saputo Stadium, Johnson approached Neagle before the game to make sure there were no hard feelings toward him. The move surprised Neagle because being upset towards Johnson or the Sounders never crossed his mind.
He finished the year with two goals and two assists, but a coaching change after the season left his future in limbo. He joined the team for training camp in Montreal, but sought a return home and they acquiesced, sending him to the Sounders in exchange for an international roster slot.
While he wasn’t able to convert his 2011 success into an improved campaign in 2012, he did learn a lot from the veteran players on the Impact.
“I learned a lot from the guys that I played behind – Davy Arnaud and Justin Mapp. Those are older guys that have been in the league for years and I think I took a lot from them,” Neagle said. “Every year, you develop and it’s a new experience. Montreal was a great city. It was definitely a struggle in some points of the year – for playing time and for how we performed as a team. But that’s a learning experience and I think it’s good for me.”
And while he didn’t watch the Sounders much in 2012 – their matches weren’t prevalent on Canadian television – he is excited to join the group and play with Johnson on his side.
“He did well. It was good to see him do well,” Neagle said. “And now I’m back, so all is well.”