Then and Now: Lamar Neagle (left) with the Menace in 2008, and this spring in an MLS preseason match (photo courtesy Seattle Sounders FC)
In just one year, Lamar Neagle’s professional-soccer journey took him from Seattle to South Carolina to Finland and back to the Emerald City.
Neagle, one of nearly 50 Menace alumni who have reached the pros, has persevered to earn a spot on his hometown team, Seattle Sounders FC.
“It’s really been all about the learning experience,” said Neagle, who starred for the Menace in 2007 and 2008. “For a younger player like me, it’s about finding my way at each stop and really just trying to find my place on this team.”
The 23-year-old Neagle made the Sounders’ roster this March, one year after the Major League Soccer team released him from preseason camp.
He regained his confidence last summer with the Charleston Battery, leading the USL-2 in goals, receiving league MVP honors and scoring a championship goal to help the Battery win the league crown. His tour continued on the other side of the globe, with five appearances and two goals last fall for IFK Mariehamn in the Finnish Premier League.
Seattle is where Neagle wants to be, playing in front of family and the frenzied, neon-green-clad fans who make Seattle the MLS attendance leader.
“I’m working hard and trying to make the most of this opportunity,” said Neagle, after appearing in Seattle’s first two matches. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to come off the bench and score some goals, like I did in Des Moines, and like I did in Charleston and Finland.”
Neagle notched 22 points in 25 matches spanning two seasons with the Menace.
“It was a really good experience – lots of great people,” Neagle recalled of his time in Des Moines. “The fans were amazing. Those were the biggest crowds I played for during my college days.
“Working at Kum & Go with Nicki Paterson (a college teammate at UNLV who now plays for the Charleston Battery)…customers would come in and recognize us and ask how things were going with the Menace. There was great community support, a lot like here (in Seattle).”
What advice would Neagle share with any incoming Menace players with aspirations of reaching the pros?
“You just got to keep at it. I’ve taken a few bumps in the road and been able to stick it out. If you want to do it, go for it. You have to appreciate what you have and give 100 percent every day.”
** This feature story is part of the Menace's 2011 game-day program, going to print as we prepare for the season opener.
ABOUT THE MENACE: Preparing for its 18th season as Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team, the Des Moines Menace competes in the 64-team Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
The season starts Saturday, May 14, when the Menace hosts the St. Louis Lions at 7:30 p.m.