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SBI MLS Rookie of the Week: Darlington Nagbe

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When Darlington Nagbe was made the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLS Draft it was widely believed he was the most MLS-ready player in the draft, and the player most capable of making a serious impact on the league.

Last Friday, Nagbe provided the latest bit of evidence to support those early opinions by terrorizing the New England Revolution defense in Portland's 3-0 victory at Jeld-Wen Field. Nagbe headed home his second goal of the season, but it was his dynamic runs and threatening forays that impressed as much as his goal.

Nagbe edged out Houston striker Will Bruin, who's clutch game-winning header helped the Dynamo beat San Jose. Philadelphia goalkeeper Zak MacMath notched his second straight shutout to also earn consideration.

What did you think of Nagbe's performance? What rookie impressed you the most in MLS this past week?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. No WAY is he a product of the US system, Akron does NOT play the US system from a college perspective. Bright side, things are finally starting to change in the US so players like Nagbe can flourish.

  2. Nagbe Grew up Playing on The Youth teams in Europe. His Dad was a Professional in the top leagues in Europe. He learned the game on the youth teams in Europe..and then in Africa before he even came to the US

    He will Play for Liberia before he plays for the US…His dad is the assistant coach for Liberia…Google Joe Nagbe

  3. I think right now it’s pretty much between Sapong, Bruin and possibly Kitchen (although whatever arguments are made for Kitchen could probably be made for Anibaba & Soares)…

    I would argue that if Nagbe had played up front for the entire year he would have settled in much quicker and would probably be closer to the lead…

    But who knows, one unbelievable goal with a billion YouTube views might be enough to win the vote this year…

  4. Plata’s not a rookie as he was already a professional in Quito.
    It’s a more wide open ROY race this year with so few guys being consistent contributors. I suppose if Nagbe gets hot and leads Portland to the playoffs he’ll make a case for himself, but it might be too little too late in the season for the voters.

  5. Where does Nagbe stack up as a ROY candidate?
    Looking just at the SuperDraft 2011 class, you have:

    GK: Z. MacMath
    D: AJ Soares, P. Kitchen, Z. Valentin, M. Boxall, J. Anibaba
    MF: D. Nagbe, R. Balchan, M. Farfan, S. Carrasco, J. Brovsky, B. Anor
    F: J. Plata, CJ Sapong, W. Bruin, J. Meram, B. Brettschneider

  6. Not convinced he would chose the US over Liberia though.

    He gave an interview about possibly playing for Liberia with his dad (who recently made a comeback at 43). While my understanding is they aren’t extremely close, I’ve never heard him say he he only wants to play for the US.

    He is about to get married to a US citizen, and his college sweetheart, that might help speed things up.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. He’s still growing in the strength/fitness department and finding his confidence but if we let him get capped by Liberia it will be an absolute tragedy. He’s going to explode in MLS over the next year or two and, as a Timbers fan, I just hope we get to keep him for a few years before Europe comes calling.

    Fortunately for the USMNT, it is generally understood that he is working hard on obtaining citizenship with an eye toward playing for us.

  8. my implication is that you have players with innate ability and you have players that have technical ability.

    that remains true in any sport.

    Some players are more John Stockton while others are more rare and like Pete Maravich. Just different skill sets and it’s obvious when you see it.

    Generally, it’s called “it” or in soccer often flair. Nagbe has “it”. Dempsey, has “it”.

    Because of our youth policy in this country of developing talent on the lowest level, I believe that element is often lost in our current system.

    Something Klinsmann has even pointed out.

  9. Well I dont know if you’re implying something or not about American players and the US system, but Nagbe is pretty much a product of the US system. Played club ball in the Cleveland, OH area since he was 10 years old.

  10. The kid certainly has some game-swag, street ball, unteachable qualities about him that most American players don’t have simply because it’s innate.

    I’d love to see him capped as well but I’m not getting my hopes up, for obvious reasons.

    He’s fun to watch, that’s for sure. Sky’s the limit.

  11. Somehow, some way, we gotta get this kid’s citizenship straightened out right now and get his butt to camp in January… i’ve watched him play for a few years now as a forward and he is one of the best the U.S. has to offer (albeit not necessarily for the immediate future)… this is the type of player we want wearing our colors for the next 10-12 years…


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