In the past four preseasons, Lamar Neagle has grown from trialist to veteran player for Seattle Sounders FC. In talking to the player who, during the split sessions, trained with the veterans, Neagle smiled as he noted his path, his responsibility as a veteran and the need in every training session to compete for minutes on a deep squad. Neagle's new stature on the club and within the region is enough that he recorded a commercial for Federal Way during the offseason.
But most of that offseason was still spent on trying to get better, though he did enjoy one week in Hawai'i. Quite similar to the area basketball tradition -- where every summer the numerous talents reconvene in Seattle and play pick up games -- the greater Puget Sound's soccer community is coming close to doing the same during the winter.
We had a couple times when guys like George John came back and other pros were here. We had some pretty good sessions at the UW.
Combining some of the pros from Washington, the Sounders, and local college talents with several indoor facilities, these voluntary games are a way that players can work not just on fitness, but on technique and tactics during the down period.
Putting in offseason work is only one way that Neagle will work to prove that he deserves playing time on the very deep team. With Christian Sivebaek joining an already deep squad at the wide midfielder role, Lamar knows what he'll need to do.
It's going to be hard to get in the game. It's going to be tough getting time, but I know I can get it eventually. I'm going to do the same thing I did last year and I'll be alright.
Would that discourage some players?
It might discourage some people who aren't up to the task of competing for a spot. A lot of players wouldn't go to a team with as much depth because they want to start every game and get comfortable, but here you've got to be on it every day, every practice because of the depth. It's a challenge and one that I look forward to.
Hard work in practice is something Neagle did last year. Nearly every practice he and James Riley would stay late. Sometimes stretching, sometimes doing ball work, others just a light jog. Now Neagle knows that it is his turn to do the same thing with the younger players that will be on the squad.
He's also looking at emulating Riley's charity work after working along side Riley in several efforts last year.
It's something that I've wanted to do for a while, and when you're playing it's easier to get that kind of publicity and be able to do more stuff. Now I'm working with some of the same organizations, so it will be easy for me to step in and do a little bit. I know I'm not going to do as good a job as James, he's got a lot of experience. It's definitely good to have a local guy try and fill his shoes, and Taylor Graham's. Taylor did a bunch of stuff and he'll keep doing it, but we lost a couple guys that are big in the community.
Lamar Neagle may only be 24 right now, but his journey from trialist, to Battery, to reservist, to veteran is evident from his behavior during the offseason and off the field.