TUKWILA – Lamar Neagle, once a ball boy for the USL Seattle Sounders, has been signed to play this season with Sounders FC.
Neagle was born in Tacoma and grew up in Federal Way, where he played for Jefferson High School.
“It’s a great story,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Wednesday as the team resumed preseason training at Starfire Sports Complex. “It’s a reflection of the effort that he put in. When we talked last year, and we said, ‘Look, I don’t see it happening here right now, but if you’re serious about this you’ve got to go someplace and play,’ which he did. He took the step, he went away from home, he got good minutes, he had a good year, it improved his game, he came back here and now he’s with us.”
Neagle originally signed with the Sounders in June 2009, after his college career at UNLV. He saw action in only a pair of friendlies and was waived after the season.
He returned as a 2010 preseason invitee before getting the word from Schmid that he should improve his game elsewhere.
Neagle, 23, did so with the Charleston Battery, where he scored 12 goals in 19 matches and earned the USL-2 Golden Boot and MVP award. Then he moved on to IFK Mariehamn in Finland, where he scored two goals in five league matches.
He returned to the Sounders this preseason and showed enough to earn an MLS contract.
“This is where I want to be,” Neagle said through a Sounders release. “From the start, I knew I needed more games to get better, and now I’m ready to make a difference. The biggest difference is my confidence and feeling comfortable on the field.”
Neagle said he expects to contribute goals and assists, and Schmid cited his versatility as a forward playing up top or on the flanks.
The club also announced the signing of midfielder Servando Carrasco, the No. 27 pick in the 2011 SuperDraft out of the University of California.
“He’s a defensive midfielder: He likes to sit in; he’s not afraid of a tackle,” Schmid said. “He strikes a good, long ball; he opens it up. He scored a good goal against Chicago for the winner there. He’s just been everything we thought he could be based upon what we saw. He’s a good influence at training every day because he comes to compete every day.”
In other personnel moves, midfielder Jonathan Prieto and defenders Danny Earls, Leone Crus and Richard Martinez are no longer with the club.
One of the tightest remaining roster battles seems to be between rookies Bryan Meredith and Josh Ford for the No. 3 keeper position behind starter Kasey Keller and veteran reserve Terry Boss.
“It’s nice to have four around for training purposes and so forth, but I know we’ve got to make a decision on that,” Schmid said. “They’ve made it real tough, so we’re trying to give it as much time as possible. ... They’re certainly capable of stepping onto the field in MLS one day or else we wouldn’t be considering them both.”
The Sounders will continue training at Starfire today in advance of the three-day Cascadia Summit, which will match the Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps in training games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Sounders open the regular season at home on March 15 against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer