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SIDELINES: Neagle braces for Montreal Impact after trade
Lamar Neagle’s world was shook up big time last month.
It was on Feb. 17 when the Thomas Jefferson grad was informed that the Seattle Sounders FC had traded him to the expansion Montreal Impact just days before the beginning of the Major League Soccer (MLS) season.
To say Neagle was very comfortable playing for the Sounders would be a big-time understatement. The Federal Way native was able to live in his hometown. He was, literally, able to have his mom cook him meals, as well as do his laundry.
In short, everything was perfect in Neagle’s world. That was until the Sounders informed him of the trade to the MLS’s newest franchise in a place where a majority of the population speaks French.
According to Neagle, after hearing news of the trade to the Impact, his mother actually broke down in tears. Everyone, including the 25-year-old Neagle, thought he was in for a long stay with Seattle. The Sounders showed their confidence in Neagle’s ability in November when he was one of 11 players protected before Montreal selected in the MLS’s Expansion Draft.
But, in professional athletics these days, loyalty means a lot less than it used to. Just ask Peyton Manning.
Despite heading to another country to play soccer and the obvious disappointment of leaving his family and friends, Neagle was able to be a bit more philosophical a few days after the trade for Eddie Johnson was finalized.
“In the long run, this is better for my career,” Neagle told MLSsoccer.com. “The more minutes I get on the field, the better I’m going to be and the more money I can eventually make.”
In Seattle, Neagle was already behind Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez on the midfield depth chart. Steve Zakuani continues to make progress and could be back in full in a few months after suffering a broken leg last season. Also, newcomer Christian Sivebaek has been one of more the impressive players this preseason for Seattle.
“I’m definitely excited to get some playing time with the (Impact),” Neagle said. “It was difficult to get playing time over in Seattle with all the midfielders they have.”
Neagle found out he had been traded, along with forward Mike Fucito, just before dinner on Feb. 17 from Sounders’ head coach Sigi Schmid. Neagle saw Fucito heading in the same direction and figured it was a meeting with the young players.
“They were like, ‘It is what it is. It’s part of the business,’” Neagle said. “You know going in to it this may happen, especially two guys coming off the bench. If anybody’s going to get traded, we’re the ones. It was always kind of there and you don’t think about it until it happens.”
Neagle was signed by the Sounders on March 2, 2011. The midfielder finished with seven total goals, including the club’s second-ever hat trick last season. The three-goal performance against the Columbus Crew earned him MLS Player of the Week, named by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR).
By the end of the season, Neagle was playing in every game, mostly off the bench. He tallied his seventh goal of the year during the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Real Salt Lake.
But, even more importantly, Neagle was really establishing himself in the Seattle-area community. Something that was a huge goal of his.
Neagle spent the offseason working the Jimi Hendrix Foundation in Seattle with the ultimate goal of starting his own foundation, with the main beneficiary being the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club. It’s an organization that is near and dear to his heart.
As a first-grader, he began his soccer career playing for the Boys and Girls Club.
It’s still up in the air what is going to happen with Neagle’s foundation while he is playing in Montreal. The Impact and Neagle open their MLS regular season Saturday, March 10, at in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.
The Impact doesn’t even make a trip to Seattle this season to take on Sounders FC. The two teams play on June 16 in Montreal.