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Darlington Nagbe might be key to USA’s success

Darlington Nagbe might not be the flashiest player for the USA, but his continued improvement might be the most important for them.

Christian Pulisic is becoming a star for the US Soccer team, but Darlington Nagbe is proving to be just as critical of a piece for the national team. While Pulisic was the finisher twice in the Yanks ever-important 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago, Nagbe was the facilitator who transitions the ball up from the back into the attack and set up the team’s goals.

The 27-year-old midfielder could have been a key player in the 2014 World Cup but had to wait until 2015 before got his United States citizenship. However, he’s was a budding star in the United States soccer system well before that. Nagbe, a native of Liberia, grew up in Ohio, played soccer in high school, participated in the US Soccer Development Academy and was a big-time player during a great run of dominance by the Akron Zips at the collegiate level. Then he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers, where he’s played since and has 26 goals in 197 appearances.

Nagbe’s patience waiting to play for the USA has paid off. He never wanted to play for Liberia, where his family fled from during the First Liberian Civil War, but it was just a waiting game before he could play for the international team.

He’s done a tremendous job filling into the center attacking midfielder role that Michael Bradley used to have. Bradley has since moved back into the center defensive midfielder spot. Nagbe’s speed and explosiveness and ability to change speeds allowed him to weave through the Soca Warrior’s midfield and into the attacking end.

On USA’s first goal Nagbe got around a defender, brought the ball up the field, then after a back-and-forth with Dempsey, he pushed it back to DeAndre Yedlin, who crossed the ball and found Pulisic’s foot.

Throughout the entire game, Nagbe made those types of runs up from the back to help the USA threaten on the attack.

Nagbe’s time with the US National Team has been up-and-down, but he’s come on strong lately, and if he continues to rise to the occasion and helps get the ball up the field like he masterfully did against Trinidad & Tobago, it bodes well for the Yanks. And that, maybe more than anything, should he the biggest thing to watch on Sunday when the American’s take on their biggest rival Mexico in Estadio Azteca.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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