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24 Under 24: #15 Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers

24 Under 24 (2012): #15 Darlington Nagbe (IMAGE)

Photo Credit: 
Gabriel de los Rios / MLSsoccer.com

15. Darlington Nagbe

Pos: M/F | Portland Timbers | Age: 22

There remains little question any more that the Portland Timbers are Darlington Nagbe’s team. Last year, he was a rookie prospect who bounced around the field trying to fit in. But in 2012, Nagbe has become more assertive, playing a more free-roaming role since the departure of ex-manager John Spencer. He may not have found consistency in the production department just yet, but his sublime skill allows him to continue to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates. With his confidence growing by the match, things should only get better for Nagbe once his former college coach, Akron’s Caleb Porter, takes over the reins of the team in December.

What the TDs and coaches like: “He’s a special talent … Technically very good, nice tight control, in tight spaces … Good athlete with a great touch … Quick on the ball … He has some special qualities in and around the goal, not only making the killer pass and getting on the things inside the box, but a unique ability to create his own opportunities, and an unbelievable knack for scoring big-time goals … I think this year he’s taken on more responsibility ... This season he’s really coming on … Certainly a player who’s got big-time upside … Marvelously athletic … Blazing fast, aggressive and dangerous … His movement from midfield is very dangerous … You need to be very aware of him and where he is on the field.”

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: “Needs more time to develop … Being more of a goal threat -- he could improve there, and if he did he’d be an outstanding player … That killer instinct to have an impact every game that he plays. If he gets to that point, could be serious candidate for US national team … When he goes against players who can physically match him, he’s got to arrive at that level and still have an impact on the game … Better decision-making around goal … Needs to keep more shots on frame … Finishing needs to improve.”

Opta Says: Of MLS players under 24 who have attempted more than 300 passes in the final third this year, Darlington Nagbe has the highest pass-completion rate (78.6 percent).

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: #10
Fan Ranking: #13
Castrol Index (as of 9/12/12): #141

2012 Stats
Matches played: 26
Matches started: 24
Goals: 6
Assists: 1

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