With new players arriving, D.C. United on Monday began clearing space by trading forward-midfielder Lamar Neagle, the team’s leading scorer last year, to the Seattle Sounders for a 2018 MLS fourth-round draft pick.
United is working to complete other deals before Wednesday’s transfer and trade deadline.
United had acquired Neagle from his hometown Sounders before the 2016 season for general allocation money. He proceeded to post nine goals and six assists and serve as United’s super-sub during a late-season surge.
This year, however, his struggles mirrored the last-place team’s, as he managed just one goal — on a penalty kick — and squandered several excellent scoring opportunities in 21 appearances (nine starts). Neagle, 30, had not started since June 24 at Philadelphia, where he missed a penalty kick and failed to convert a late header from close range during a 1-0 defeat.
His departure clears $200,000 in annual base salary from United’s books and opens room as Bolivian forward Bruno Miranda and Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Stieber join the squad this week. The fourth-round pick acquired from Seattle is almost worthless — the draft is only four rounds.
Neagle rejoins a Seattle team that won the 2016 MLS Cup and is unbeaten in seven straight (4-0-3). This is his fourth stint with the Sounders: He was waived in 2009, signed in 2011 (five goals) and, after one season in Montreal, recorded 21 goals and 15 assists for Seattle between 2013 and ’15.
Three weeks ago, when he and United visited Seattle, he told the Sounders’ website that he missed “just being around family and playing for [my] hometown. That’s pretty special.”