Today is a day many around the American soccer community have been waiting to arrive for the better part of three years. Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe is officially a citizen of the United States. This means as soon as he applies and is issued a passport, he'll be eligible to play for the USMNT.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Congrats to <a href="https://twitter.com/darlingtonnagbe">@darlingtonnagbe</a> on officially becoming a United States citizen today.</p>— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) <a href="https://twitter.com/MerrittPaulson/status/642148822806761472">September 11, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Now that he's able to be called up by Jurgen Klinsmann, the biggest question remains -- Will he?
Taking a glance at statistics and Nagbe's production of goals and assists leave a lot to be desired. He's scored just two goals this season and only had one last year. If Klinsmann is solely judging players by the numbers they put up, then Nagbe has no chance at a call up. However, by looking at the absences of players like Benny Feilhaber, who is putting up an MVP-type season, we know that's not the case.
When judging Darlington Nagbe we need to approach it from the most simplistic perspective. Does this player have a skill set that can help the USMNT?
At the international level, the most important part of a player's arsenal is his technical ability. Most importantly, his first touch. Nagbe's ability to control the ball with his first touch and quickly make decisions is top notch. He can receive a pass in a tight area and escape before an opposing player knows what happened. In that aspect he'll clearly help. He'll add a dynamic presence to the midfield, one that can dribble past multiple players and get into great positions.
The mysterious thing about Darlington Nagbe is that with all of his mouthwatering talents, he doesn't seem to produce the final ball or finish. Could his lack of production be a problem with the Timbers tactics or his positioning? That is entirely possible. We've seen several cases of players not performing very well for their clubs and then playing up to their potential with the national team. What is certain is that Nagbe possesses immense quality that could help the USMNT when surrounded by international talent.
Nagbe will undoubtedly get a call up at some point. When that call comes will be dependent on how high Klinsmann rates him. If he appreciates the phenomenal technical qualities Nagbe has, that call could come as early as the Mexico match on October 10. More realistically though, we'll see him in the January camp with all the other fringe players.