KeyBank Match-up: Darlington Nagbe & Diego Chara vs. Hendry Thomas & Jeff Larentowicz
MLSsoccer.com says he’s flying high. NBC Sports Network just shot their latest MLS 36 feature with him. The team just hired his college mentor and coach in Caleb Porter to take over the squad. And with a goal in each of his last three games, it might seem as if all this would go to Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe’s head.
WATCH: Nagbe goes to goal
But Nagbe remains as humble as ever and quietly goes about his business. Gradually transferring the potential into real results, the young midfielder comes into Friday’s match against the Colorado Rapids on a great run of form.
Alongside him in the midfield is the speedy workhorse Diego Chara. Chara’s intense and untiring work rate has been well documented. Back from a one game suspension due to yellow card accumulation, the Colombian is ready and raring to go.
How that age-old battle for the midfield plays out brings us to the KeyBank Match-up.
|Darlington Nagbe & Diego Chara||vs.||
Hendry Thomas & Jeff Larentowicz
Thomas comes to MLS after spending the last two seasons with the EPL’s Wigan Athletic. A 2010 World Cup veteran with Honduras, the holding midfielder provides a potential missing link for the Rapids XI with the loss of captain Pablo Mastroeni who has been out with concussion issues most of the season.
Solid, incredibly strong, and a tireless energy much like his Portland counterpart in Chara, Hendry will attempt to bottle up the slick and red-hot Nagbe. With Portland’s 4-3-3 formation of late, Nagbe has been able to boss much of the midfield with ample space and vision. Assuming Hendry makes his debut Friday night, he’ll be busy with the quicksilver quick Nagbe.
And while that battle rages, Diego Chara will be going toe-to-toe with Jeff Larentowicz. Prior to his one game suspension, Chara was given a bit more freedom in the aforementioned 4-3-3 and utilized it in more of a true box-to-box manner. Equally involved in attack as well as defense, Chara’s work didn’t always show up on the scoresheet, but his presence was essential in re-energizing the Timbers form.
In Larentowicz, the Rapids have one of the most respected and talented central midfielders in the league. While he too can defend, with the presumed Thomas in the lineup, look for Larentowicz to push forward and direct traffic into the Colorado attacking third. As much as Nagbe will do the same for Portland, Larentowicz will be changing things up for the opposition on the other end. Chara will need to be constantly aware of the talented central mid and know that he’ll also have support in captain Jack Jewsbury and the Portland backline.
The center of the park is always a well-traveled area of the pitch. But come Friday night, it will be particularly worn. Who makes the most of it will have a big impact on who ends up with the maximum points come final whistle.