Atlanta United have arguably made the biggest splash of the MLS offseason to date. Last week, the club announced it had acquired Darlington Nagbe from the Portland Timbers for what has the potential to be the largest sum of allocation monies ever paid out.
Everyone can agree that Nagbe isn’t a superstar player that will light the league on fire with glamorous goal totals or even tons of assists. What he brings is a calming influence into any team he plays in. He holds onto the ball in tight space better than maybe anyone in the entire league. His dribbling ability is also second to none in MLS. These are both areas that Atlanta needed to improve in, so they went out and got the best possible option for both facets of the game.
While Nagbe isn’t a highlight reel kind of guy, he’s not incapable of making your jaw drop. In his seven years as professional he’s had his fair share of moments that prove just how much talent he possesses.
As self-proclaimed chief Nagbe fanboy, I’ve taken upon myself to pick five moments from his career to get your absolutely hyped beyond belief to see him in the Atlanta United lineup. Here goes.
First one was the best one
When people talk about Nagbe, the main topic of discussion is his potential and a debate about whether or not he’s living up to it or not. It sometimes seems unfair how much expectations are placed on his shoulders. Some of that may stem from how Major League Soccer was introduced to him. His first-ever goal in the league was one of the best we’ve ever seen. It won the 2011 Goal of the Year and is still one you see on many highlight montages and even commercials to this day. What a hit it was...
Nagbe’s international career is a weird one. He was a member of the infamous squad that failed to make the World Cup for the first time since 1989, but little to no fault should be place on him for that. A year before the nightmare 2017 for the USMNT, Nagbe made his international debut after gaining citizenship. In the lead up to the 2016 Copa America Centenario, Nagbe teamed up with Christian Pulisic to dazzle against Bosnia. The Atlanta midfielder set up the teenager’s first-ever international goal with a lovely display of technique and playmaking ability. This play perfectly shows his immaculate first touches and composure in tight spots.
No Ugly Goals
One thing you can’t criticize Nagbe for during his career is scoring weak goals. While he only has 27 goals in his MLS career, he’s got a plethora of world-class strikes to his name. In this match during his rookie season he scored two in one game to really rev up the hype train. The first a low drive from outside the box and the other a wicked volley that dipped under the crossbar. He may have one or two tap-ins to his name, but the majority of his goals are screamers.
Come at me, bro
Speaking of amazing goals, his solo effort against the Vancouver Whitecaps last season may be right up there with the Goal of the Year. His dribbling ability came to the forefront on this masterpiece as he takes possession in the middle of the field, skips past two defenders and unleashes an unstoppable strike that clangs off the crossbar for a stunning goal. To top it off, the “Come at me, bro” celebration is amazing. If this goal doesn’t get you amp’d to see him play in the ‘Benz, then I don’t know what will.
Last but not least, we have another tremendous goal scored last season. A spinning chipped effort that fooled everyone, including Tim Howard. Haters will say he didn’t mean to shoot it, but it’s hard to say he didn’t with how perfectly the ball nestles into the net. It’s this type of creativity and spontaneity that should get you excited to see No. 6 running around the United midfield in 2018.