With top strike options missing, Lamar Neagle happy to be Seattle Sounders' main threat again

SEATTLE — The prognosis on Obafemi Martins remains unchanged: The Seattle Sounders forward will be a game-time decision again.

Martins has been nursing an ankle injury ever since he was forced to leave the match against Toronto FC on Aug. 10 and has once again been limited in training ahead of Saturday’s encounter with the Chicago Fire (10 pm ET, NBCSN).

With Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson also missing due to international duty, Martins’ absence would leave Lamar Neagle as the Sounders’ top scoring threat for a second consecutive game. 

It’s a mantle Neagle doesn’t mind wearing.

“I think just confidence wise, I want to be the guy who steps up and scores a goal in every single game,” Neagle told reporters following Wednesday’s win over Chivas USA. “Whether Clint and Eddie are out there or Oba's out there, I still want to score a goal. It doesn't really matter who's out there, I want to be the one scoring goals.”

As he has so often done when scoring is his primary task, Neagle came through again in the Sounders’ most recent win. His goal against Chivas was his career-high sixth of the season, all of which he’s scored when playing forward.

Neagle had been in a bit of a scoring slump, going more than 500 minutes between goals. Virtually all those minutes came while he was playing as a wide midfielder, though.

“I've had chances here and there, even playing left back [against the Columbus Crew], I had a great chance,” Neagle said. “It's been one of those things that's been coming. In training, I've been trying to work on my finishing as much as possible.”

Neagle’s willingness to work has been one thing that has never been questioned. Along with his scoring, it’s a major reason he’s continued to stay on the field even when the Sounders are at full strength.

“He’s done well,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters. “There’s still things, as with every player, that you want him to do better. But he’s scored important goals for us. He does a lot of work up front. He constantly shows himself, constantly tries to create opportunities and make runs and get into positions for the midfielders to pass the ball.”

Sounders fans are clearly taking notice, as well. Following his latest standout performance, Neagle was serenaded to chants of “253, 253, 253” (the area code of nearby Federal Way, where he grew up). 

“I've heard it before," Neagle smiled, "but every single time, it gets better and better."