"Houdini" wins it for Sounders

Lamar Neagle earns himself a new nickname in La Manga win

Lamar Neagle is starting to develop a reputation for having a flair for the

While in Arizona the Sounders were trailing the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0
in the second half when Neagle got his head on a corner kick and knocked it in
the net to shrink the deficit to 2-1.  Seattle went on to win 3-2 to
finish off that leg of training camp.

On Friday, as the Sounders were finishing the competition leg of training
camp against Norway's SK Brann in the La Manga Cup, they needed a goal again as
they waned into the final moments of the match with a scoreless tie.  Who
else would they turn to but Lamar Neagle?

Peter Vagenas lined up over the kick in the 84th minute, knocking a low
toppling ball into the box from the left side.  It skipped past Zach Scott
at the near post, then Tyson Wahl right in front of the goal, eventually
falling to Neagle at the far post, who poked it past the keeper for the 1-0

“We have our places to go on corner kicks, and I ended up with back post
that time.  It came right through a bunch of people and finally dribbled
to me,” Neagle said.  “It’s good we got the win. It’s good for our
confidence. Hopefully we can keep it rolling from here.”

That held and the Sounders earned a fifth place finish in the La Manga Cup
with the 1-0 win.

“He’s like Houdini.  Every time we get to the end of a camp--and maybe
the camp hasn’t gone his way--but he finds a way to score, like he did against
Vancouver, and he found a way to score today,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi
Schmid said.  “I think we’re going to name him Houdini. He pulls out his
bag of tricks right at the end there.”

The game started with the Sounders FC going on the attack, dramatically
outshooting Brann, though they had nothing on the scoreboard to show for it.

One such chance came in the 41st minute when James Riley cracked in a cross
and Steve Zakuani crept between two defenders to head a shot toward the net,
only to have Brann goalkeeper Hakon Opdahl.

Conversely, Brann got into a scoring possession several times, but late
efforts by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall and the rest of the Sounders
defense kept any of those threatening possessions from materializing into so
much as a shot.

As the second half got underway, the Sounders substitutes started flowing in
and by the end of the match 12 changes were made in total.  However, that
didn’t stall their resolve.

The defenders kept goalkeeper Chris Eylander in the clear for much of the
second half and former Washington Husky combined with first-half starter Kasey
Keller to complete the clean sheet.

The midfielders were also relentless in their pursuit between the boxes.
They just couldn’t manage solid enough opportunities to put a goal on the
board.  At least not until Neagle subbed on for Freddie Ljungberg, who
played a team-high 71 minutes.

“It’s good to get a win again today,” Schmid said.  “Obviously it makes
the team feel better and we end the trip on a win.”

All told, the Spain trip was riddled with positives.  Not only did
Schmid get a great look at some trialists the team had in camp, but he also got
a better assessment of the team and their on-field personality.

“I think we identified that our movement off the ball has got to be a lot
better.  It’s good when you play this competition because they play with a
lot of movement off the ball.  It’s good for our guys to see that. 
They play with a lot of endeavor defensively, close spaces quicker than they do
if, say, you were in Argentina,” Schmid said.  “So from that standpoint it
made us address the physical aspects of our game.”

Additionally, it gave the players an opportunity to spend time together
while working hard toward the common goal.

“It’s always great to win, but at the same time these trips are so much more
than that,” Vagenas said.  “It’s important, first and foremost, that guys
stay healthy. We did a lot of work. Our bodies are absorbing a lot from running
and fitness and what not. The most important thing is to build up our fitness
and I think we’ve done that for the most part.”

Through all of the positives that emerged from the two-week trip to Spain
that followed a stay in Casa Grande, Ariz., one misfortune came when
second-half substitute Taylor Graham reaggravated the hamstring injury that
kept him from training in full for most of the time spent in Spain. 
Graham considered the injury just a setback in his recovery program.

“He felt he could go.  He went through a couple trainings, felt he was
ready to go,” said Schmid, who had Graham warm up for the game before making
his final decision.  “The first time he tried to turn, he could feel it a
little bit again, so based on that we got him out early.  It’s probably a
setback for him, but not as far of a setback as the last time he did it.”

The win gave the Sounders fifth place and a 2-1 record in the La Manga Cup
tournament, putting a winning cap on the traveling portion of their preseason. 
They will return to Seattle on Saturday evening and are set to resume training
on Tuesday before facing the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday, March 6 at
Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC.  The MLS season begins with First Kick on
Thursday, March 25 with the Sounders against the Philadelphia Union at Qwest

Scoring Summary

Seattle - Neagle (Vagenas) 84.

Brann - None 


Seattle Sounders FC: Kasey Keller (Chris Eylander 46); James
Riley (Zach Scott 67), Tyrone Marshall (Jeff Parke  62), Jhon Kennedy
Hurtado (Taylor Graham 67, Jamel Wallace 75), Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 46);
Sanna Nyassi (David Estrada 56), Osvaldo Alonso (Stephen King 67), Nathan
Sturgis (Peter Vagenas 62), Steve Zakuani (Michael Fucito 46); Freddie
Ljungberg (Lamar Neagle 72) , Fredy Montero (Tye Perdido 67).

SK Brann:  Hakon Opdal; Birkir Sevarsson, Rodolph
Austin, Yaw Amankwah, Bjarte Haugsdal; Erik Mjelde, Eirik Bakke (Gylfi
Einarsson 53), Tijan Jaiteh, Jan Gunnar Solli; Erik Huseklepp, Diego Guastavino
(David Nielsen 59).