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Lamar Neagle on return: “I know my role”

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The 30-year-old midfielder is ready to compete on the training ground.

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TUKWILA, Wash. — Though he insists that it still only counts as his fourth, the new contract midfielder Lamar Neagle signed with the Seattle Sounders Tuesday after a spell in free agency could be considered his fifth separate time joining his local club. The Federal Way product may not have a direct line to the red phone on general manager Garth Lagerwey’s desk, but the 30-year-old says he knows what the club expects from him in 2018.

After leaving the Sounders in a trade to D.C. United in 2016, Neagle found the form that had kept him as a mainstay in Seattle, scoring nine goals as a super-sub in his first year away from the club. The following year, however, Neagle’s form declined and United offloaded him in August in a sweetheart deal for Seattle. Neagle only played 88 minutes — all off the bench — but managed to score a pair of goals, including a late equalizer against the LA Galaxy.

Back from free agency, Neagle knows he will have to compete to see the field amongst a bevy of new young players.

“I know my role,” Neagle said Tuesday. “I know starting minutes are going to be tough to come by. I’m here to fight and make this team better from the bottom up. That’s where it’s going to come in. The MLS season is long and it takes an entire team to make it to a championship. That’s what I hope to be part of.”

Asked what knowledge as a veteran he could contribute to younger players, Neagle pointed to his own experience fighting for playing time as something that could be useful to younger players trying to break into the first team.

“I always feel like I have a good relationship with the young guys coming in and struggling for minutes,” he said. “Me going through that, and going down and playing in USL and getting traded to different teams. I do have a lot of experience and can share that with guys. Hopefully they can take whatever they can from it.”

Be it guidance for young players, goals off the bench, or internal pressure on current starters to keep them honest, Neagle seems ready to do what it takes to help Seattle toward a third consecutive MLS Cup appearance.