It’s been well-documented that Darwin Jones is a good friend of many Sounders FC players both past and present. A local product who trained with the club for years before officially signing a Homegrown Player contract last month, Jones is close with DeAndre Yedlin and has been mentored by veteran forwards such as Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins.
There is one specific Sounder, however, that Jones is especially looking to for guidance during his transition from the University of Washington to MLS: fellow Seattle-area native Lamar Neagle.
“It’s always nice for me to have one of the younger guys from my area coming in and kind of passing the torch,” said Neagle, the 27-year-old who is preparing for his fifth season with Sounders FC. “He’s going to be a great player. Obviously at UW he had a great career, and I don’t expect anything less of him here.”
Neagle turned pro at the same age as Jones, 22. Each of them loves to play forward, though in recent years both have been used as outside midfielders by their respective teams.
Jones’ speed and ball control are the attributes that impress Neagle the most.
“He’s a fast player, has a great left foot, has a good head on his shoulders, and he does play simple,” Neagle said. “But he also has the ability to go one-on-one, which is another one of his strongpoints. And with that speed, just playing simple balls and making runs off of it, he’s going to do great.”
Jones quickly made an impression on the Sounders FC technical staff as well, earning the start at left midfield for the club’s first friendly of the preseason. He connected on several passes with Neagle, who was playing at forward in Clint Dempsey’s absence.
Last year, Neagle played outside midfield and finished the regular season with nine goals and nine assists, both career highs. He hasn’t always been a regular in the starting XI, however. Neagle did not see the field in his rookie year with the Sounders and was traded to the Montreal Impact for the 2012 season.
Neagle learned from those experiences, and now he is sharing his knowledge with Jones.
“He tells me about a lot of the things he did to get to where he’s at now,” Jones said. “So I try to just build off that and keep it in the back of my mind. When I’m out on the field, I just try to mimic what he and a lot of the guys do in order to keep myself on the field.”