"He is with Portland and I’m with Seattle.” Nagbe & Zakuani reunited for a moment

17 September 1:25 pm

"He is with Portland and I’m with Seattle.” Nagbe & Zakuani reunited for a moment

By Brian Costello

Photo: SoundersFC.com

Darlington Nagbe has had a very busy couple of weeks. His former Univ. of Akron head coach, Caleb Porter, was named head coach of the Timbers. He had a camera crew follow him around for MLS 36 for NBCSports. He helped out with a special project with MLS Digital and EA Sports that will air soon. His jersey is one of the top selling kits in MLS. And he came in at #15 on the MLS 24 Under 24 list.

But Saturday presented a rare opportunity to reunited with an old friend in Seattle Sounders midfilder Steve Zakuani. Both teammates under Porter while at the Univ. of Akron, the two had yet to actually take the field with each other due to Zakuani's leg injury that had kept him on the shelf for almost a year. 

In a great article on SoundersFC.com, Zakuani spoke about playing against a friend with whom he shares a long history:

“It was great, you know.  Last year, I didn’t get to play against him, so this year it was just good seeing him out there, and getting the chance to go against him,” Nagbe said.  “It was fun.  We both had fun.”

Like Zakuani in 2010, Nagbe is having success in his second MLS season.  Zakuani was tied for the team-lead with ten goals in 2010, while Nagbe has six goals for the Timbers with still six games left on the schedule.

The success comes as no surprise to Zakuani, who has been carrying the Nagbe flag for years.

“I’ve known Darlington for a very, very long time and always said he’s a great player.  He’s maturing more and more,” Zakuani said.  “I still think he has a long way to go, because I think he has so much quality.  I was happy to, for the first time, play against him at this level.  I wish him to continue to become a good player.”

Zakuani goes on to talk about his friendship--he'll be in Nagbe's wedding in the offseason--and says that he'd like to share the pitch with him some day again on the same side: 

“He’s someone I like to always look out for and I wish him to keep playing the way he’s playing right now,” Zakuani said.  “I wish maybe one day in the future we can play again together.  But at this point he is with Portland and I’m with Seattle.

The Akron roots run deep for many players across MLS. Nagbe was reunited with with another former Zip and close friend, Teal Bunbury, earlier this season both for an adidas commercial and on the field. Moreover, wunderkind Vancouver Whitecaps rookie Darren Mattocks, yet another former Akron teammate of Nagbe's, tweeted today about his thoughts on Nagbe's inclusion in the 24 Under 24 list.