After nearly a three-month spell on the sidelines with an injury, Atlanta United’s Darlington Nagbe returned to the field on Saturday afternoon in the dominant 3-0 win in Colorado. Less than a week after the club announced that the U.S. international had returned to full training he was inserted into the starting lineup by Tata Martino and performed like a player in midseason form.
Darlington Nagbe made his 1st appearance in nearly 3 months, the longest injury layoff of his career, and completed 100% of his passes.— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 15, 2018
3/3 long balls
Casual stroll in the park on a warm afternoon in Colorado.#COLvATL #ATLUTD #MLS #USMNT pic.twitter.com/mx9I22Sjkq
It was a trademark Nagbe performance. Fly under the radar, do the simple things brilliantly, and affect the game like few in MLS can. His contributions to keeping possession and being a calming influence was obvious to see from the opening kickoff and Atlanta cruised to their most dominating performance in a while.
Miguel Almiron praised Nagbe after the match, lauding his fellow midfielder’s talents and saying that the club has missed him on the field.
“Every player is important, but (Darlington) Nagbe is a very special player. We missed him a lot, so I’m glad he was able to get healthy and be back on the field.”
—Miguel Almiron; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
The addition of Eric Remedi right about the time Nagbe went down with an injury was a huge blessing. But now that the American is back, he’s proving why he was worthy of being the target of one of the most expensive trades in league history.
Tata Martino was also happy with Nagbe’s performance after the match.
“He played very, very well. He played more than we had planned. We planned about sixty to sixty-five minutes for him, but he made it all the way to around the seventieth minute.”
The decision to throw him right into the starting lineup after his return was an interesting one that certainly paid off. Now that’s he’s back it creates some interesting lineup decisions and options for Martino. Will the 3-5-2 be here to stay or will we see some tinkering to find the best combination? No matter the choice, it appears as if Nagbe is back and as good as ever and that can only mean good things for Atlanta United.