At his introductory press conference and fan meet and greet, Darlington Nagbe could best be summed up with one word: happy. As he walked into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium team store, Nagbe shook the hand of nearly every fan in line waiting to get his autograph or take a photo. He spent over an hour acquiescing to all supporter requests as his mother, Somah Nagbe, looked on with pride only a mom could conjure.
While getting acquainted with the Atlanta United media, Nagbe seemed to take a second to look back on his time with the Portland Timbers, the only professional club he had been apart of up to this point. “Obviously Portland was great, but I’m here now and I’m looking forward to it.”
When asked what he thinks the toughest transition is going to be both on and off the pitch in a new city, Nagbe replied, “On the pitch, just getting into preseason and getting to know my teammates and coaches and how we want to play. Off the field, just getting to know regular life in Atlanta and getting adjusted to everything.”
“It’s a lot of people’s top choice to come and play here,” Nagbe said while discussing the perception of Atlanta United around MLS. “The fanbase and the organization is all first-class. Everyone is so passionate around here, which I think as a player that’s definitely what you want; A fanbase that’s dedicated to the game and the team.”
“He’s a great guy,” president Darren Eales said. “We knew because Paul McDonough used to be his agent that Darlington was a great character. That’s really important to us when bringing players in here. He’s someone that works day in and day out on the field and off the field. Yes we care about being on the pitch, but it’s just as important with Atlanta United that you’re committed to the community and the city and making a difference. With Darlington, we have a character that epitomizes all of those values.”
It’s always reassuring as someone who follows the club that the players who are being signed come off as genuinely good people, and Nagbe made that kind of lasting impact on hundreds of supporters today. He’s sure to quickly become a fan favorite when the 2018 season rolls around.
Eales: “We’re excited to get someone like Darlington Nagbe, a U.S. national. For us, the first year was unbelievable. It was beyond what we could’ve ever dreamt of in terms of the way the fans got out here to support us, but we’ve always said we want to improve every transfer window. Darlington’s a player that fits our team very well and fits the way we’re trying to set the team up. He’s attacking, he’s exciting, and he’s a facilitator and a connector. In this particular instance, the attributes and skills that Darlington has compliments our firepower that we have up front. With Darlington behind Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Tito Villalba pulling the strings, I think it’ll see our offense go to a whole new level. We’re so excited to have him on board.”