2. Darlington Nagbe
Darlington Nagbe will be a very important player to watch, not just in this game but throughout the playoffs. With Almiron out due to injury, Nagbe’s importance in the midfield becomes that much higher. Against Chicago, it was unclear what Nagbe’s role was. At times he played higher in the middle and seemed to replace Almiron in the formation. At other times he seemed to drop back and play his normal midfield role as a box-to-box midfielder.
Nagbe has seven starts against Toronto. All of his starts came as a member of Portland Timbers. This is important to remember, since his role with Portland was slightly different than it is now with Atlanta. Also bear in mind that both Portland and Toronto evolved rapidly over those seven years and that these teams only faced each other once a year and never in the playoffs.
With Portland, Nagbe made seven starts against Portland. He scored one goal, took 12 shots, and put six of them on target. He logged 621 minutes across those seven starts and posted a 2-3-2 record.
Nagbe is such an important part of Atlanta’s midfield and his presence after he returned from injury last month was consistently felt. He should have an impact on this weekend’s game, especially because of the implications it has. This game is also the perfect opportunity for Nagbe to find his first goal with the club.