An exciting day for Atlanta United fans who welcomed their new #6, Darlington Nagbe, to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time Friday. Hundreds of fans lined up for a chance to meet the U.S. international face-to-face, and show him that famous southern hospitality.
“It’s my first time in Atlanta and everyone’s showing love,” Nagbe told reporters. “I got to meet a lot of the staff and a lot of fans. Everyone’s so passionate here. I think as a player, that’s what you want: fans that are dedicated to the team. So far it’s been great.”
Darlington’s day started off in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Atlanta United front office picked him up in Arthur Blank’s private jet for a VIP trip to Atlanta. He says he cherishes his time in Portland but was excited the moment he heard playing in the Five Stripes was a possibility.
“I think if you’re going anywhere to play that Atlanta is the spot, so I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to the season. It’s a lot of people’s top choice to come play here. Obviously from the fanbase to the organization, it’s all first class. And I’m looking forward to it.”
After Nagbe received a tour of his new home field, he signed autographs and took pictures with the fans for more than an hour. He then joined club president Darren Eales to meet local media.
“Darlington’s a player that fits our team very well and fits the way we’re trying to set the team up,” Eales said. “He’s attacking, he’s exciting, and he’s a facilitator and a connector.
“We got a player who’s one of the top players in MLS but also someone that was different to what we had in the team already,” he continued. “The attributes and skills that Darlington has compliments our firepower that we have up front. With Darlington behind Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez, and Tito Villalba pulling the strings, I think it’ll see our offense go to a whole new level.”
Eales, who made the trip to Ohio himself, said the early wake-up call was worth it to bring in one of the premier talents in Major League Soccer.
“We sat down and said who do we like in the league that in an ideal world we could get on the team. One of the first names is Darlington, but you don’t think you’re going to have an opportunity to trade for him. Then circumstances happen and we had that chance and we were ready.”