Darlington Nagbe wanted money.
So did Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson.
Something had to give.
It did, with the Timbers selling off their first-ever draft pick and a key piece of the team that won a title for the club in 2015 to Atlanta for $1 million in allocation money, which can swell to as much as $1.65 million with incentives. Nagbe is headed to Hotlanta, which is already an elite team and just spent a record amount to acquire the talented midfielder.
Nagbe was a college superstar and a key piece of the system employed by his longtime coach and mentor Caleb Porter, who together won glory with the mighty University of Akron Zips, and then also won a championship for the Timbers. (As a Zip and Portlander, I am very proud of his accomplishments at Akron.)
With Porter and Nagbe both gone, the Timbers are entering a new era where Paulson will be able to prove his mettle as an astute soccer mind who excels at player development and strategy.
Paulson, for example, loudly complained about USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who preferred players who learned the game in Europe. That was part of the cavalcade that forced Klinsmann out in 2016. After his departure the U.S. lost to Trinidad and did not qualify for the World Cup.
Paulson is, of course, the son of former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson who was named George W. Bush's treasury secretary in 2006.
I think I speak for all Zips—and hopefully a few Portlanders—in congratulating Nagbe on his payday and wishing him luck in Atlanta.