Lamar Neagle is proof that you can go home again. And again.
The Seattle Sounders dealt for the popular midfielder in a trade with the Montreal Impact on Sunday, the third time they’ve acquired the Seattle-area native. In exchange for the 25-year-old, the Sounders sent an international roster spot through the 2014 season to the Impact.
“It’s amazing,” Neagle said. “It’s going to be nice to be able to see my family and be around my little sisters and everything like that. It’s definitely a perk of being back in Seattle. The past few years have been crazy. It gets tiring after a while traveling so much and moving and switching teams.”
This will be Neagle’s sixth change of address since first signing with the Sounders as an undrafted rookie out of UNLV in 2009. He spent the following season in the USL with the Charleston Battery and even played in Finland before re-signing with the Sounders in 2011.
Neagle responded to the second chance by scoring five goals and adding two assists in 1,008 regular-season minutes. He also scored a goal in the playoffs. That made him an attractive trade piece, though, and he was sent to the Impact along with Mike Fucito a year ago in exchange for the rights to Eddie Johnson.
Although Neagle started a career-high 11 games and played nearly 1,100 minutes in 2012, he only played in two of the Impact’s final five matches.
“I have grown a lot [since 2011],” he said. “I think a little leadership is what I’m bringing, as well. And a better player. I know it’s been a couple years, but I think instead of running around so much like I usually did, I’m a lot smarter player.”
How exactly Neagle fits the Sounders’ plans is still unknown. Outside midfield was actually one of the positions at which they were deepest. Since Neagle left Seattle, the club has added Mario Martínez and seen Steve Zakuani return to fitness. Brad Evans, David Estrada and Christian Tiffert have also been used in wide positions at various times.
It would seem that Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was perfectly willing to let that work itself out.
“I didn’t go into the draft or the Combine or anything like that so Sigi was the first one to give me a chance,” Neagle said. “He obviously likes me. I keep on coming back. [Sounders technical director] Chris Henderson has been great. He has always looked out for me both on and off the field, a very good guy.
“And Adrian [Hanauer, GM] is the same way. The organization is one of the best, if not the best in MLS. It will be nice coming back to that and reconnecting with those people.”