Nagbe makes rapid recovery from ugly ankle sprain: "He's got bionic blood"

Darlington Nagbe - Portland Timbers - smiles - training

BEAVERTON, Ore. – As soon as Nigel de Jong's boot came down on the ankle of Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers fans began holding their breath.

The photos of Nagbe being wheeled out of the StubHub center in a wheelchair with a towel draped over his head and of Nagbe's ankle bending at an unnatural angle under de Jong's spikes only caused Timbers fans to clamp down harder on the air struggling to escape.

Two and a half weeks later, Timbers fans were able let that breath go as they sighed with relief.

Just three games after everyone had been fearing the worst for the newly minted United States international, Nagbe was back on the pitch with the Timbers as they played the New England Revolution to a 1-1 draw on the road on Wednesday evening

"I think he has bionic blood," a smiling Timbers head coach Caleb Porter told the press on Saturday when asked about Nagbe's ability to bounce back from an injury that at first looked devastating. "It's crazy."

"Some guys, a lot of it is in here," Porter continued, tapping his head. "He's got such a positive energy that he just heals quick, but he's also an elite athlete, a world class athlete. Guys like that usually heal a lot quicker."

Asked about the injury, Nagbe, always a soft-spoken player, was quick to put the focus back on moving forward.

"It was just an ankle sprain," said Nagbe of the injury. "I am feeling good and I am just happy to be back out here with the guys and playing again."

Even as he recalls the injury itself and the scary moments that came just after, Nagbe returns to the positive.

"It just felt bad. I wasn't sure what the injury was, but it just didn't feel good. It was hard to walk, but it felt better a couple days after."

For Porter, it is that same positivity and tendency to bounce back that has made Nagbe one of the Timbers' key players over the last several years. As a player that has been fouled more than any other player in the league since Porter took over the Timbers in 2013 – 275 times in the last four seasons -- Nagbe's ability to shrug off each such incident is vital.

"I think he is just used to it," said Porter, "used to being on the ball and getting fouled and kicked. He's used to having pressure with guys swarming him and it's just, for him, normal. It's his job, his role; it's what teams do to try to stop him."

Porter continued, "I don't think that it is talked about enough: his persistence and continuing to deal with it and handle those type of things, because it is not easy. When you get two or three guys on you every game and guys kicking you and guys fouling you, that kind of thing can get to you."

Nagbe, meanwhile, shows no sign of backing down from the exciting style of play that has earned him all that attention throughout his career. Asked about what he needs to do going forward, Nagbe keeps it simple.

"Continue doing what I am doing: just get on the ball and create chances."