The Portland Timbers locked up two key members of their midfield, announcing the signing Thursday of Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara to contract extensions. The club used Targeted Allocation Money for both deals.
Nagbe and Chara have been with Portland since their inaugural MLS season in 2011; Nagbe was selected with the club’s first-ever SuperDraft pick and Chara was brought on as a Designated Player that April. Nagbe is the club’s all-time MLS leader in appearances and starts, while Chara ranks first for the club in MLS minutes played.
Both played key roles in powering Portland to MLS Cup last year, forming two prongs, along with Diego Valeri, of the three-man midfield that was the catalyst for the Timbers’ late push into the playoffs and through to Cup.
Nagbe, 25, has 23 goals and 20 assists in 160 career regular-season appearances. He had five goals and five assists in 33 regular season appearances in 2015, and added two more assists – including one in MLS Cup – in six games in last year’s playoffs. He’ll become the Timbers’ all-time leader in games played across all eras with his next regular-season appearance.
Born in Liberia but raised in Ohio, Nagbe emerged as a US international shortly after obtaining American citizenship late last year. He played in both of the USMNT’s November World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago and recently participated in the team’s January training camp, seeing action in friendly wins against Iceland and Canada.
Like Nagbe, Chara has been a fixture in the Timbers lineup since joining the club, tallying six goals and 13 assists in 146 career regular season appearances with Portland. The 29-year-old defensive midfielder is a two-time Timbers Players’ Player of the Year.
The Timbers will open their 2016 season on Sunday, when they’ll host Columbus Crew SC at Providence Park in a rematch of MLS Cup 2015 (4:30 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).