Tacoma native Lamar Neagle will always have the Seattle Sounders in his professional-soccer bloodline.
Apparently, the Sounders cannot exist too long without him as well.
After it became clear Neagle’s reserve role with D.C. United would be dwindling further, the Sounders pounced on the opportunity to acquire Neagle for a fourth time.
Since Neagle was brought in by trade in early August for a fourth-round pick in next year’s Major League Soccer draft, he has played in 10 matches, including both playoff games against Vancouver in the Western Conference semifinals.
And the Jefferson High School graduate has added two more goals to his already storied track record with the club. His 28 career goals ranks No. 4 all-time in Sounders history.
“It was a little surreal coming back in the beginning,” Neagle said. “But now everything is like it used to be by coming in and making the same trip to training every morning.”
Even when the Sounders hit their mid-summer stride, coach Brian Schmetzer still felt his bench was a little thin on firepower and experience.
So when D.C. United made Neagle available, Schmetzer gave his former player a phone call. The two talked candidly about what the club needed in a support role off the bench.
“I was already coming off the bench (with D.C. United) and knew I would be sliding further back on the depth chart,” Neagle said. “We had a frank conversation about things. He explained the top 11 (in the Sounders starting lineup) would be hard to break. After all, it is a championship team.”
But Neagle has found ways to contribute playing limited minutes.
In just his third appearance Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Galaxy at CenturyLink Field, he came on late to score an equalizing goal on his first shot to salvage a 1-1 tie.
In six of his 10 Seattle appearances, all in reserve, he has played 10 minutes or fewer — with a season-high 23 minutes in the regular-season finale against Colorado.
In the postseason, he did log 12 minutes in the team’s 0-0 tie at Vancouver, and came on in the end of the Sounders’ series-clinching 2-0 win at home.
“With Lamar, he kind of reminds me of Herculez Gomez, who was that veteran presence last year for us,” Schmetzer said. “He works hard every day in training. He will score that odd goal for you coming off the bench., He does his job when you put him on the field.
“We are really happy to have him back.”
Things are a little different for Neagle from the last time he left the Northwest. He has now been married to his wife, Natalie, for three years. And the couple’s son, Hudson, just celebrated his first birthday last week.
Even though the Neagles kept their home in Auburn, it is currently being rented out. So they now live on Lake Tapps, which is a 40-minute away from training at Starfire Sports.
Neagle, who was part of those Sounders squads trying to break through to the MLS Cup, said being part of a team that has won it now presents a completely different vibe.
“It is almost like a weight has been lifted,” Neagle said. “It is an awesome opportunity any time you get into the playoffs, but I have not been on a team like this. They have gained so much confidence and experience from having been in the finals, it just feels a little bit different around here this time around.”