The Impact trained a couple of hours before the Sounders today. Some players and coach Jesse Marsch were available to the media afterward.
Here is my conversation with former Sounders Lamar Neagle of Federal Way, who was sent to Montreal along with Mike Fucito in the deal that brought Eddie Johnson to Seattle.
Why are you wearing No. 25?LN: That was kind of all they had left by the time I got here. I asked for (No. 27). If I wasn’t going to get a lower number, 27 would have been nice. Close enough, I guess.
Alex Caskey has your number, and in some ways, a story similar to yours. LN: That’s funny. I saw he had the number. I said, 'Good man.' He was in Charleston just like me. If anybody was going to have it (it should be him).
What was your reaction to the trade?LN: It was out of nowhere. After being protected (in the expansion draft) I thought I was good. And going into preseason, I was doing well. It was just one of those things. That’s part of the business. Unfortunately I have to leave my family, but it’s kind of better opportunities for everybody.
And yet, your playing time has been spotty so far.LN: Towards the beginning I had a couple of injuries that were kind of keeping me out. Then I started to get back into it and I kind of wasn’t playing how I usually did. It’s just one of those things that people go through. I was going through it. I like to think I’m out of it now: I’ve been playing really well the last couple of weeks. But it’s still tough with Justin Mapp and Davy Arnaud playing the outside. Those are guys that have so much experience. Mapp’s like 27 and has been in the league 10 years. What can you do? I’m still learning from these guys. Hopefully in the second part of the season I’ll be getting more minutes.
Since something similar happened with Fucito, is part of it just system and opportunity?LN: In terms of how you fit into a team, and how the coaches see you, and if you can fit into how they play. If that doesn’t work, then the best situation is to leave, really. Everybody knows that Mike Fucito is a good player. But if he doesn’t fit into your system, he has to find a place that fits him. Hopefully he’s found that in Portland.
Did you circle this date, do you dream of scoring the winning goal?LN: No matter what league it is or where you’re from, if you’re playing against your old teammates and stuff like that, you want to get the better. Especially for us now. We’ve gone through some tough times and had some tough decision. So we definitely want to come out and start after this break with a good game, and a good win, and start our stadium off right.
Any similarities between the Sounders and Impact?LN: Each team has its own characteristics. They aren’t too similar, from the coaching staff to the organization.
Is everyone buzzing about opening a new stadium?LN: Coming out to Montreal, I really had no idea what it was going to be like. From the first game we had like 60,000, somewhere around there. The support has been phenomenal. I’m sure with the new stadium, everybody’s going to want to see it. I’m excited to see it and to see our fans there.
How are you getting along in a French-speaking city?LN: It’s not bad. I live in an area where it’s more English speaking. They still speak French, but if you speak English it’s not a problem. It’s a nice city. It’s kind of small, and I’m able to walk around different neighborhoods and kind of get an idea of the people around.
I also asked Sounders coach Sigi Schmid about the trade:
"Eddie Johnson, we felt, had some of the qualities we were looking for in a front runner: He had the speed to stretch a defense, he had the ability to hold up play, he’s decent in the air, which he’s shown over the months that’s he’s been with us as well," he said. "Those were the qualities we were looking for. So we knew we were giving up quality and guys who had done very well for our franchise. But we felt that was something that made sense to do because of what we were going to gain at the other end."
Finally, I asked if the club was willing to make the deal even at the risk of Neagle or Fucito blooming in Montreal the way Sebastien Le Toux had in Philadelphia.
"That can always happen," he said. "That’s something, every time you make a trade that’s very possible to happen."