SEATTLE — Federal Way, Wash., native Lamar Neagle had waited three seasons to score at CenturyLink Field. Turns out in Seattle, when it rains, it pours.
On an afternoon when many records fell, Neagle hit the back of the net three times in front of friends and family on a memorable afternoon in Seattle. The left-sided midfielder had gathered 16 tickets for Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew, then single-handedly made sure they’d all walk out with the Sounders' gameday promotion of free haircuts.
After Neagle’s first goal got past Will Hesmer and hit the net, he could sense a big day coming for his team.
“We haven’t had a game like this where we got off to a good start in a while,” Neagle said. “[…] We were kind of connecting at the beginning and throughout the whole game, we were all on the same page offensively and defensively.”
Neagle, who spent 2010 with the Charleston Battery after failing to make an impact with the Sounders in 2009, credited that time with improving his confidence. Whereas he felt the pace of the MLS was too fast in his rookie season, Saturday’s match was an indication that things are slowing down for the 24-year-old.
After scoring two of Seattle’s first three goals, he waited until the second half for his best goal. Neagle, who had pumped in a handful of left-footed crosses, said he sensed his marker positioning himself on the outside to take the cross away.
With a finish that reminded both Neagle and head coach Sigi Schmid of his Goal-of-the-Week-winning strike against Real Salt Lake, the midfielder ducked inside and picked out the far corner of the goal. Just as in Rio Tinto, the ball struck the underside of the crossbar on the way into the goal.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said he was happy the assistant referee was in position to call it a goal, as the ball crossed the goal line by only a few inches before bouncing back out into the field of play. For Neagle, it was his fifth goal of what is shaping up to be a breakout season.
That stretch of six games in 18 days? With five down, Seattle have posted a 4-0-1 record with 14 goals scored. Now, Seattle turn their focus to the US Open Cup semifinal against FC Dallas. The back-to-back champions host FCD on Aug. 30 in the cozy confines of Starfire Sports Complex.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS