In one of the biggest matches the Sounders will play in all season, experience is an invaluable asset. And, after a quick glance at the Rave Green roster, no one brings more CONCACAF Champions League minutes than midfielder Lamar Neagle.
Neagle could be an X-factor in the two-legged series with Chivas, beginning on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field. The 30-year-old winger has made 14 appearances, including nine starts, in Champions League, which ranks second-most among active Sounders. Only midfielder Osvaldo Alonso has more, but Alonso is currently sidelined due to a quad strain.
Last Thursday against Santa Tecla FC, Neagle came onto the field in the 78th minute in a 4-0 win to advance to the quarterfinals.
“It’s all about understanding CONCACAF,” Neagle told media earlier this week. “We’ve experienced it in the last round, but over the years we have a bunch of guys on the team who have played in it, so it’s a matter of controlling what we can control.”
In reality, though, it’s mostly Neagle who provides an abundance of CCL history to Seattle’s roster. Outside of an injured Alonso, no one else has played more CCL matches with the club.
Since 2010, Neagle has four CCL goals in his four separate stints with the team. Of note, he is the only Sounders to score in the CCL semifinals (at Santos Laguna, April 2013).
“We are happy to bring Lamar back to the club,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey last month. “Lamar gives us an experienced and reliable option in the attack.”
This option may come to fruition sooner than later. With major match congestion affecting the schedule – Wednesday’s match marks the third match in seven days – Neagle could see even more minutes in both legs. In addition, the seasoned veteran brings a unique perspective to the young midfield talents, such as Henry Wingo and Handwalla Bwana.
“I really enjoy watching those guys play,” Neagle said. “The more minutes these guys get, the better they are going to be in this league.”