Darlington Nagbe’s inability to be a scoring threat in 2014 shouldn’t alarm Portland Timbers fans, because in no time, the highly-rated midfielder will virtually be unstoppable.
After having his best professional season last year, 2014 was Nagbe’s season to become the superstar most people knew he was capable of being. An Andres Iniesta-esque player that can open up a defense with single pass, a Frank Lampard-esque player that was capable of being a scoring threat and a Lionel Messi-esque player that can withstand multiple challenges while dribbling at full pace.
However, the Liberian born attacker hasn’t quite lived up to the gargantuan expectations. He has proven that he can pass like Iniesta with his 86 percent completion rate and 35 chances created, and he bemuses defenders with his silky smooth skills just like Messi does in Spain. But at the moment, he can’t buy a goal.
Instead of being the league’s alpha dog, Nagbe and his teammates are struggling to keep Portland in the race for one of the five playoffs spot in the Western Conference.
I’m not trying to imply that the 2nd overall pick of the 2011 MLSSuperDraft hasn’t delivered this year. He has actually played well, but hasn’t made an impression on the stat sheets.
He has appeared in 19 league games and hasn’t scored a single goal. His failure to score goals isn’t a problem because the Timbers are tied for second in goals scored with 30 goals. However, a player hoping to represent the United States in international tournaments has to score goals.
His problem this season is his unwillingness to have a crack at goal. He has less shot attempts than games played. He has only fired 18 shots and only eight have been on target.
Last season he started every league games and attempted to score 62 times. Because of his ambitious approach, he found the back of the net nine times and helped create four goals.
US soccer fans were salivating due to his offensive prowess. The ex-University of Akron player won the hearts of soccer fans around the States.
Even though he isn’t a citizen yet, most people, including myself, believed that Nagbe is the future USMNT attacking midfielder.
Despite being barren in front of goal during this ongoing season, USMNT supporters still hold Nagbe in high regards, and rightfully so.
The hard-working midfielder is blessed with raw talent. His astounding skillset and athleticism make him a multi-dimensional playmaker. He can create space for himself and teammates with his dazzling footwork, he can accelerate past any defender with lightning pace and his uncanny ability to orchestrate an escape route out of tight spaces is brilliant.
Take his versatility, speed, strength on the ball and excellent maneuvering skills, and add them to the fact that he is already a MLS veteran at the age of 23, and you have a deadly attacker.
The preceding statement combined with the fact that he scored his first goal of the season in the US Open Cup semifinal is proof that in no time Nagbe will start scoring goals.