24 Under 24: #1 Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers

1. Darlington Nagbe

Pos: M/F | Portland Timbers | Age: 23

It feels like it was just yesterday that the Portland Timbers phenom announced his presence in the league with authority by unleashing a mind-boggling volley that was voted overwhelmingly as the 2011 MLS Goal of the Year. Now in his third year since Portland made him their first-ever MLS SuperDraft pick out of the University of Akron, Nagbe makes his third appearance on this list at the very top. With superior ball skills, exceptional athleticism and rugged durability, Nagbe is enjoying his finest season. With his old college coach, Caleb Porter, at the helm of the Timbers this year and Argentinean midfielder Diego Valeri taking over the role as the club’s offensive centerpiece, the 23-year-old forward/midfielder is tied for the team lead with eight goals, a career high, and three assists, tied for a career high.

What TDs and coaches like: "“He’s coming through for Portland. It’s been a great season. Things are happening for him right now. ... Confidence is a plus for him. You can see in the past he hasn’t performed as well, and I think more than anything else mentally he was not at his best. The results and how Portland is playing are helping him in his development right now. ... The expectations were high in the beginning and then they dropped a little bit. But now they’re back where they need to be. ... I think he’s been managed properly. He has done extremely well for Porter, for sure. ... Almost impossible to stay with in the open field."

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "Right now, he’s on top of the world. He’s playing, scoring, doing well. But he needs to prepared when times are not good. That’s going to be a key for him. His mental strength is going to dictate how high he can go. ... That killer instinct is beginning to come out more regularly. If he can make that a staple of his game, watch out. ... Can he now take the next step and really dominate games on a regular basis instead of in spurts?"

Opta Says: Darlington Nagbe is second amongst players eligible for 24 Under 24 with 1.7 chances created per game, and fourth with 0.4 goals per game this season. No other player is in the top four of both categories.

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: #15
Castrol Index (as of 9/20/13): #56

2013 Stats
Matches played: 28
Matches started: 28
Goals: 8
Assists: 3

Related Content

What do you think of Darlington Nagbe? Tell us in the comments below.