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Report: Darlington Nagbe to remain in Atlanta

The want-away midfielder is going to stay with United.

MLS: MLS Cup-Portland Timbers vs Atlanta United FC Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As they say, all’s well that ends well. That appears to be the situation with Atlanta United and midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Just over a week after SB Nation’s Dirty South Soccer’s Rob Ursy reported that Nagbe was pushing for a trade to Columbus Crew SC to be reunited with former head coach Caleb Porter, the news has flipped.

On Monday afternoon, Ursy reported on Twitter that Nagbe will remain with Atlanta this season.

“Hearing from a reliable source that Darlington Nagbe will stay with Atlanta United this season,” Ursy tweeted. “Unclear if the internal situation was settled or not, but that’s the latest word. Maybe De Boer will shed some light on it tomorrow.”

Nagbe was set to enter his second season with Atlanta after helping the Five Stripes win the club’s first ever MLS Cup in its second year last season. That is until preseason began and Nagbe was reportedly training and playing with the second team and not getting looks with the first group in friendlies after arriving to camp a day later than his teammates.

Usry’s initial reports indicated that Nagbe was eager to once again work with Porter, who took over the Black & Gold in January following the departure of Gregg Berhalter to the United State’s Men’s National Team. Porter was Nagbe’s coach both at the University of Akron and for five seasons with the Portland Timbers. During their time together, the player-manager duo won an NCAA College Cup and an MLS Cup and Nagbe arguably played some of the best soccer of his career.

Nagbe was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by the Timbers. He spent seven seasons in Portland, making 203 appearances while scoring 27 goals and registering 30 assists. The U.S. international was traded to United prior to the 2018 season for just over $1 million in General and Targeted Allocation Money.

While Nagbe would have provided another talented piece to the Columbus midfield and likely been successful in a reunion with Porter, the deal did not make sense for the Crew. Although Nagbe has played all over the midfielder during his career, his best position is in either central midfield roles, currently held by captain Wil Trapp and Brazilian Artur. Given Nagbe’s total compensation in 2018 was $620,000, more than either Trapp or Artur, it’s unlikely the midfielder would have been acquired to sit on the bench or play a reserve role.

The Black & Gold are currently in the final state of the 2019 preseason. The team is in Charleston, South Carolina, taking part in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Columbus, the two-time defending champion of the preseason tournament, earned a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, despite having to play 60-plus minutes a man down after a red card to Trapp in the first half. The Crew will face USL side Charleston Battery on Wednesday evening and wrap up the preseason with a game against MLS expansion side FC Cincinnati next weekend.