A surprising situation in Atlanta has lead to a potential boon for Columbus Crew SC as U.S. Men’s National Team veteran and two-time MLS Cup winner Darlington Nagbe is pushing for a trade to the Crew.
SB Nation’s Dirty South Soccer is reporting that the Ohio native wants to be reunited with his former college and Major League Soccer manager, Caleb Porter, who took over the Black & Gold in January, in Columbus.
Nagbe was traded to Atlanta United from the Portland Timbers for just over $1 million in General and Targeted Allocation Money before the 2018 season after playing in nearly every match of his seven seasons with the Timbers. In his first season in Atlanta, Nagbe played in a career low 23 matches and struggled to fit into Tata Martino’s system despite starting against his former team in the 2018 MLS Cup, his second title.
Nagbe has not taken part in first team training under new Atlanta manager Frank De Boer. The No. 2 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft reportedly arrived late to the Five Stripes’ preseason training camp and has been absent from both of Atlanta’s preseason matches so far.
Nagbe has a long history with Porter. The midfielder played three seasons under the coach in college with the Zips and five of his seven seasons with the Timbers were managed by Porter. The player-coach duo won a College Cup together at Akron in 2010 and an MLS Cup in 2015 with the Timbers. Nagbe developed into a National Team player under Porter, earning 25 caps with the senior U.S. team, his first coming in 2015.
Currently, Columbus utilizes three central midfielders, an attacking No. 10 in Federico Higuain, a holding No. 6 in Wil Trapp and a rangy No. 8 in Artur. Nagbe presents an enticing option but fitting him into the current lineup could prove difficult for the Crew. At 28 years old, Nagbe is six years older than Artur. While Artur is able to provide defensive cover to offensive transition, Nagbe could offer more in the attacking end of the field.
There also remains the possibility that Trapp, the team’s captain, could be leaving MLS in the near future. The U.S. midfielder, who arrived to the Zips the year after Nagbe left for MLS, was linked with a move to Europe during the offseason. Although one did not come before the close of the winter transfer window, it is increasingly likely that more offers will come for Trapp in the summer once the window has reopened. Although Nagbe and Trapp do not typical play the same role, he could provide cover in the central midfield if the Columbus native departs.
This is a developing story, one that Massive Report is looking into. We will provide updates as they become available.