This Video Will Make You Want Darlington Nagbe on the US National Team ASAP

Soccer Features

When it comes to the world of soccer, one phrase that seems to reverberate any time there is a debate to be had is this: soccer is subjective. The basic idea here is that, for both fans and members of the media alike, there are a multitude of varying perspective and opinions. Indeed, everyone is entitled to an opinion. With that said, I’m here to make a declaration: Darlington Nagbe is a phenomenal soccer player, and I’ll fight anyone who says differently.

First things first, he doesn’t always score goals. Indeed, he managed only one all last season, a fact that led some to call his 2014 campaign a slump. However, in the system utilized by Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, scoring goals is not Nagbe’s job. Instead, he is there to pester opposing defenses wherever opportunities present themselves, thereby helping to create chances for his teammates.

According to, in 2014, Nagbe was 2nd overall in Major League Soccer in both dribbles successfully completed and fouls suffered. He is not only extremely elusive and frustrating for defenders, but also possessed of significant technical ability. Nagbe’s first touch is as silky and smooth as anyone in the league. Moreover, he has the unique ability to turn on a dime and leave a defender in the dust, but also the composure to pick out the most intelligent pass possible.

While Nagbe has consistently featured domestically for the Timbers, there could soon be an opportunity for him to showcase his immense talents on the international stage. According to Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, the 24-year-old will be eligible to represent the United States Men’s National Team in September.

The USA’s roster is already deep and talented, but in this writer’s opinion, Nagbe should be on Jurgen Klinsmann’s speed dial as soon as logistically possible. His versatility (he can play as a winger or an attacking midfielder) combined with his pace and technical ability would make him a dangerous addition to the US player pool.

For this week’s video analysis, I chose Nagbe’s game against the LA Galaxy. I feel this game really showcases the player perfectly. He doesn’t have a flawless game, but he’s directly involved in both of his side’s goals and he puts his stamp on the game like he typically does. I would say this is an average game for him. It’s one you will likely see from him numerous times throughout the season, and that’s why I picked it. Judge for yourself just how good of a performance it was:

0:19 – One of Nagbe’s best attributes is his dribbling. His ability to walk the sidelines without losing possession is unreal.

1:55 – Nagbe uses his chest to take a brilliant first touch into space. He’s then able to combine with his target man, eventually leading to a shot on goal

2:34 – Not only does he possess pace and technical ability, but strength as well. Here, he’s able to utilize his physicality to fend off defenders while dribbling.

3:06 – The technical ability, skill and creativity of this back heel pass is breathtaking. It is moments like these that make you want to watch him every week.

3:34 – This is a first touch that dreams are made of. The majority of players in the top leagues around the world wish they had this type of ability.

4:40 and 6:31 – A few of his mistakes on the day. In both instances, he gets caught in possession in dangerous spots on the field. These were difficult positions for him, and perhaps show the Timbers over-reliance on Nagbe to navigate out of tight spots.

4:54 – Work rate is a very underrated aspect of Nagbe’s game, as he’s more than willing to track back and help out when needed.

7:37 – A brilliant first touch allows him to control this long ball, and leaves him in a perfect position to execute a lovely pass to Adi for the goal.

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