Klinsmann: Nagbe is a 'great fit' for national team

One of the standouts in the MLS playoffs has been Darlington Nagbe, who has helped the Portland Timbers move to within one game of their first MLS Cup appearance with a 3-1 win over FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference final.

Between the conference semifinals and final, Nagbe made his U.S. debut, coming on as a sub in the 6-1 win over St. Vincent & the Grenadines and 0-0 tie at Trinidad & Tobago. Nagbe, the son of former Liberian international Joe Nagbe, had a long wait as he applied for U.S. citizenship, but Jurgen Klinsmann said the national team was waiting for him as well.

In an interview with USSoccer.com wrapping up the recent two-game series, Klinsmann said he liked Nagbe's multi-faceted game.

“We found a player that is really good handling the ball in both directions," he said. "He is responsible defensively, to always go behind the ball and to defend, and help out. When we go forward, he knows when to pass, when to dribble, when to keep things racing forward, and also when to take some risks in a certain moment. He has a change of pace in one-on-one situations when he goes at defensive midfielders. He has the confidence to get past them and to get closer to the box. Darlington is a real nice option now going forward. He had to wait a long time, and we’ve been waiting for him as well, but it’s a great fit and we are glad to have him on board.”

Nagbe was one of several players who made their U.S. debuts in 2015 or came into their own as national team regulars. DeAndre Yedlin, who had made only two starts before 2015, and Gyasi Zardes, who debuted in January, led the USA with 19 appearances. Klinsmann said the most important part is the learning curve for the two players.

"Everybody can see that they are maturing," he said. "Everybody can see that they are growing and becoming senior players. This is what this path is about, bringing younger players, give them time and give them moments where they don’t perform or have a bad game and carry them through. Teach them during this path and what they have to improve and hopefully see the benefit later on. At the end of 2015, we saw a lot of good answers from Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin, and I’m sure we will see even more good stuff in the upcoming year.”

Bobby Wood played just 165 minutes off the bench with no starts in 2014 and was invisible in his first start in 2015 against Chile. But he finished with four goals in his last eight games, including the winning goals against the Netherlands, Germany and SVG and the tying goal in overtime of the Concacaf Cup against Mexico.

"He developed more personality, more confidence," Klinsmann said of Wood. "For a striker, confidence is always connected to scoring goals. After the first couple of games came the moment when he came on the field against Holland and in the last minute scored the winning goal for us, which was huge, not because you beat Holland in their own country, but it was huge for him that he started to believe in himself. A couple days later, he scores the winning goal against Germany in Germany where he plays, which is another big confidence-booster. He’s becoming used to the pressure, the expectations of scoring. The expectations for a forward are to score, not every game, but try to score every second game or at the very least every third game. This is his learning curve now and hopefully he keeps learning, keeps improving, keeps helping us and keep on going through that transition of a World Cup cycle between the two World Cups.”
16 comments about "Klinsmann: Nagbe is a 'great fit' for national team".
  1. Richard Brown, November 27, 2015 at 4:56 a.m.

    I have not seen this player play.

    Jurgen said he always gets behind the ball to help out when we lose the ball.

    I did not hear that he is always up when we have the ball when he doesn't have the ball on attack.

    That is very important does he do that as well?

  2. beautiful game, November 27, 2015 at 11:13 a.m.

    Nagbe is a player, makes things happen, calm under pressure, avoids pressure, solid offensive player and tracks back. He will make a difference on the USMNT as a playmaker.

  3. Kim Littleton, November 27, 2015 at 11:34 a.m.

    Seriously, we have been "waiting" for this guy? Another recently naturalized player. Come on!!! Why can't we give the players born here a shot? It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand this thinking...we have the Julian greens, the zelalems, now this nagbe...to name just a few...you mean to tell me there are no 2 way midfielders who are USA born? Come on.....I want to see a goalie who is not USA born called up...oh wait..klinnsman is just waiting for his son so that won't happen!

  4. Terence Shumaker replied, November 27, 2015 at 2:05 p.m.

    Nagbe and mom left Africa when he was months old, and they settled in Ohio when he was 9. He's an American. Get over it. He's a great player!

  5. Kim Littleton, November 27, 2015 at 4:08 p.m.

    Since you know him so well, then why Terence has he waited till 2015 to become naturalized if he has been in Ohio since age 9? Perhaps he was waiting for the Liberian call-up that never came. I don't need to get over anything. I am simply asking questions that no one else seems to ask.....

  6. Terence Shumaker replied, November 27, 2015 at 9:53 p.m.

    Unfortunately KL, your questions have absolutely nothing to do with football, and smack a little of xenophobia.

  7. Allan Lindh, November 27, 2015 at 4:28 p.m.

    From what I have seen, Nagbe is a more complete player than anyone we currently play in the midfield. Better pace, better athlete. Have to wait and see whether in the pace of the international game, he can remember to pass to his own team mates.

  8. Richard Brown, November 27, 2015 at 4:58 p.m.

    If he is an inside mid. Then it is extremely important that he is up when the ball is up. If he does that from an inside mid position he will score a lot of goals. He will have to push himself to do late in the game when he is tired.

  9. Wooden Ships, November 27, 2015 at 6:42 p.m.

    Kim, unfortunately there probably aren't any or many US born central mids of international quality to bring in. I liked Torres and his creativity, but his consistency would sometimes fail him. I also think JK prefers a more physical player, which is a little silly IMO. I still think Feilhaber is our most skilled and creative mid, however, JK in the interview may have eluded to why Benny isn't a mainstay-a good fit. I say figure it out JK. I think we have a few up and coming central mids, again do they consistently play at a high quality. If all or most of our developing players are depending upon club instruction and training and that the only real time spent with the ball is in these settings, I'm afraid that's insufficient. Players learn control and dribbling and touch at a young age and mostly amongst themselves.

  10. beautiful game, November 27, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

    KL, u sound like Trump, get a life and get off the 'exceptionalism' train which dilutes common sense. And the answer to your question about a US born 2-way player; none has been discovered. And as usual u bloggers see everything except that Nagbe has a high soccer IQ and makes things happen; everything else is relative.

  11. Richard Brown, November 27, 2015 at 11:23 p.m.

    I would love to see this guy play now. If he really is a two way player it could mean that he and Bradley could be interchangeable when they are on the field together. It would make the team more interesting and harder to defend against then the team is right now.

  12. Spanish Red, November 29, 2015 at 5:44 a.m.

    Well done Jurgen! Now go and find another ten players who are as good. I'm all for praising individuals when they are doing well, but not in public and not in such a way as to make the rest of the squad think they are not as good as him. Soccer is doing fine though in general and USA are looking good:

  13. Joe Linzner, November 29, 2015 at 12:37 p.m.

    So what is it you want him to say only, "Nagbe is a good player" and then name the entire team and call them good players? Else someone would get their nose out of joint. If he is being honest ? Is it not fitting to point out players who did well and then also name those who did not do well? Why mollycoddle everyone? Altidore for example.... scores gimmes loses the ball more often than not but get's praised ??? WTH.... Get's an 7 for scoring goals a child could have converted. The turn, the simplest move for any forward get's praised .... give me a break... Oh and how American is he?? This Xenophobia is really getting old!!

  14. Scot Sutherland, November 30, 2015 at 6:32 p.m.

    Nagbe is a no brainer. Any coach would pick him. He looks like a very high quality number 8, which is the way Porter uses him in Portland.

    The real question still remains. How will Klinsmann use him? I would be very surprised if he realizes that Nagbe is a number 8. I expect him to make him a 6 or a wide player and say that he is helping him develop. That would be the Klinsmann way. Get good players, play them out of position, and blame them for not performing.

    We'll see.

  15. Andrew Kear, November 30, 2015 at 8:59 p.m.

    Klinsmann will misuse him like he does with everyone else.

    Klinsmann is a rubbish coach.

  16. mary stock, December 1, 2015 at 6:51 p.m.

    Andrew and Scot. It's so easy to call names. First, tho', you should know what you're talking about. I learned recently that Pep Guardiola did the same thing w/the Bayern Munich team: He had the guts and the nerve, on only his second coaching job I believe, to REQUIRE that each and every player learn every single playing position on the team. He tore the whole team apart to do it! THEY DID IT WITHOUT ANY OF YOUR GRUMBLILNG and KNOW-IT-ALL COMPLAINTS, TOO. AND NOW THEY GO OUT AND PLAY ANY POSITION HE ASKS OF THEM! WELL, TOO. So much for JK "misusing" our guys. KNOW YOUR SOCCER BEFORE COMMENTING. You make fools of yourselves when others, who know these things, read your comments.

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