U.S. int’l Nagbe gets Atlanta United opportunity
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USA international Darlington Nagbe (#25) appeared in 11 qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: AFP Services)

ATLANTA -- By joining a new team and facing a new challenge, United States international Darlington Nagbe has a unique opportunity to stretch and strengthen his game.

Nagbe -- traded by the Portland Timbers to Atlanta United this week -- will play for renowned head coach Gerardo Martino, who has a reputation for getting the best out of his players, The Argentinean guided Barcelona and Argentina over a stretch from 2013-16. This year, he led Atlanta – in its first-ever season -- to an impressive fourth-place finish in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference (15W-10D-9L, 55 points).

This appears to be an opportunity for Nagbe (214 games/27 goals) to smooth out his game and step up to the next level.

“Darlington is one of the most dynamic players in the league,” said United technical director Carlos Bocanengra.  “He compliments our attacking options so well. He has the ability to dribble out of trouble. He has a very unique quality in his ability to skip past a few defenders and drag defenders out of position, which leaves his teammates in great positions one-on-one or with mismatches.”

Nagbe's resume includes playing for the 2015 MLS Cup champion Portland, being named a 2016 MLS all-star and helping the U.S. to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup title.

“We see Darlington as someone who is going to bring other people into the game and make all the players around him that much better,” Bocanegra finished.

Portland sent the 27-year-old Nabge and defender Gbenga Arokoyo to Atlanta for financial and personnel considerations.