With Eric Brunner still not playing regularly after recovering from a harsh concussion and Kenny Cooper being traded to the New York Red Bulls last season, the pickings for a solid USMNT player to come out of the Portland Timbers squad was looking pretty haggard. After all, most of the Timbers' starting line up bench come from either a foreign nation (Colombia, Scotland immediately jump to mind) or just aren't good enough to crack the line up of the United States national team.
So when news broke yesterday that Darlington Nagbe was officially issued his American green card, my ears perked up and I finally began to see where the Timbers' first ever MLS-caliber USMNT player was going to come from.
According to sister SB Nation site, Stars and Stripes FC, the chance for Darlington Nagbe to play for the USA could come as early as 2015:
Portland Timbers starlet Darlington Nagbe has received his United States green card, which puts him on the path to citizenship. Now that he has his green card, he must wait five years before he can apply for citizenship, but he is engaged to an American citizen, which would expedite the timeline to three years away from citizenship beginning on the day of his December wedding.
Now that's not to say that the Timbers won't get a US national team caliber player before now and 2015, but the reality of the situation is that most MLS players don't make it there and Nagbe just happens to be young and talented enough to really make a run for it if that's what he wants.
Additionally, while the Timbers could always acquire a returning USMNT player, the likelihood that said returning player adorns the USA kit once again is relatively small under the Klinsmann era considering his desire for players to "trade up" and he typically sees MLS as a step down. Not that he's incorrect on most occasions.
But Nagbe isn't a lock in for the USA just yet, despite citizenship looming, according to Ryan Rosenblatt of Stars and Stripes FC, Nagbe's home country Liberia has come knocking on his door lately.
Nagbe has confirmed that Liberia, the only country he is currently eligible to represent, has contacted him, but he has rebuffed their advances. Presumably, that would imply that he has an eye on the U.S., but that much hasn't even been confirmed yet.
So will he wait? What happens if his performance spikes in 2013-2014 under head coach Caleb Porter? Would he look to possibly make the 2014 World Cup with his former home country?
Questions abound for the young Timbers' forward, but one thing is for certain. Nagbe definitely has the potential to be an impact maker for the USMNT. It's just a matter of patience at this point.
You can read more about US Soccer and the USMNT at Stars and Stripes FC.