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February 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Lamar Neagle on getting a new contract: ‘It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders.’

Sounders FC’s Lamar Neagle held a group interview after Tuesday’s practice, mostly to talk about the team return to Charleston, where the Federal Way native made a stop in the early part of his professional career.

Here is a transcript:

*     *     *

(What does Charleston mean to you as you look back?) “It’s a very special place for me. It’s where I kind of got started. Obviously I started here in 2009 halfway through the year, but there wasn’t any reserve league or anything like that, so I didn’t get any games or anything. Charleston was a place where I could develop, and I had a lot of fun, a lot of success. That’s kind of where I started scoring goals professionally. It was a great time and a great atmosphere.”

(Ahead of the team’s trip back there, have you taken time to think back to how from you have come since then?) “I think lately now. Just to think back that it was 2010, four years ago, it’s quite a while since I’ve been back, so it’ll be nice to see. I think there are still three or fours of the same guys. John Wilson keeps retiring. He retired after I went, but I think he’s still playing. He’s doing the Brett Favre and keeps coming back. It’s kind of cool to have that connection with guys who are still playing.”

(How did you end up in Charleston?) “That was a tough time for me as a player. When you’re playing in the top league in MLS and then you have to go down two leagues, it was very tough. Luckily Peter Fewing kept me training with them until I found a place, but yeah it was either Kitsap or Charleston, and I thought getting away from home and having that time to develop would be good for me. It ended up being the right decision and it all worked out.”

(When the Sounders said you’re not ready yet but might have a chance to come back, did you believe the second part?) “Yeah, it was definitely a hit to your pride when, like I said, when you’re in the top league and you have to take those steps down. It wasn’t even USL-1, it was USL-2, so it was definitely a challenge to myself and me kind of proving to myself that I could play in a league like MLS with some of the top players. I think it was definitely a proving ground for me. That’s one thing that I tell the younger guys coming in — you may not see the spotlight right away like a DeAndre Yedlin; you may have to go down and get games and get your confidence up and get your 90 minutes.”

(Does it feel like the season is coming up soon?) “Yeah, it does. I know Charleston is going to be a long trip. Whenever you’re kind of away for that period of time, it seems a lot longer. But right when we get back, the time is going to go by real fast, so I’m going to enjoy my time in Charleston as much as I can.”

(What did scoring those goals in Charleston do for you?) “Yeah, I think that was just me proving to myself that I could play. When I was here in 2009, I think they had me at left and right back. I was going up against (Steve) Zakuani, like the Rookie of the Year, so that’s not good for my confidence when he’s running by me in practice every single day. To actually be playing the position I’d played my entire life and playing in attacking form and scoring a lot of goals was huge for me.”

(What does it mean to you to get that new contract? Anything feel different?) “Yeah, it’s a lot of weight off my shoulders. I’ve been kind of blessed to be able to play in Seattle, but then to get the confidence of the coaches and reassurances of a new contract when there are so many changes on the team is really cool for me.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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