While he’s spent seven years in the league, in only one of those – 2017 – did Darlington Nagbe face Tata Martino’s Atlanta United side. After the expansion club battled Nagbe and the Timbers to a 1-1 draw in Portland, the midfielder was impressed with the newly-formed team and their character. Now, wearing the red, black and gold in preseason, he’s even more impressed with the squad.
“A lot of talented guys,” said Nagbe about his first impressions of the team. “And besides their talent, a lot of good guys as well. And the coaching staff has been great, we’re happy to be here and enjoying it so far.”
Atlanta's playing style is one quality Nagbe remembers well, and it’s a system that he sees himself fitting into.
“Great team, talented team. They love to be on the ball, possess the ball and attack well, so I’m happy to be a part of it this year.”
While he’s looking forward to being a piece of the 2018 puzzle, he knows a starting role is not a given. The amount of talent continues to grow for Atlanta, and as the level rises, as does the intensity and competitiveness.
“It’s good and I think if you’re here, you want to be in an environment where there’s a lot of top players and it’s going to be competitive, so I’m looking forward to it.”
With over half the roster under the age of 25, Nagbe is one of the more experienced players for Atlanta. However, he’s still new to the team, so there’s a lot of work to be done to build chemistry and cohesiveness amongst the side. But the U.S. international isn’t worried.
“It’s a good mixture of youth and talent, a lot of great veterans leading the young guys that have come in and the new players that have come in.”
Though he’s confident in their ability to mesh, he knows these relationships don’t form overnight.
“I’ll say it takes into the season especially in the attack when you have new pieces, you know, just the chemistry, knowing where guys want the ball and things like that, how to play with each other, but so far a week and a half into preseason it’s been looking good.”
The team will officially put their harmony to the test as they start their regular season on March 3rd in Houston, but you’ll want to be there when they kick off in Atlanta as they host their home opener on March 11th against D.C. United. You can secure your seat here.