Crew fans know Darlington Nagbe is a good player. Actually, Captain Crew, as he is known, is very good. If anyone tries to dispute that, Crew fans can now point to a just-released stat that puts Nagbe in some very elite company.
Nagbe tops a list of midfielders put out by SkillCorner in “In Ball Retention Under High Pressure.” I know what you’re thinking, “Ok….what’s that?” I had to track down just what this stat is referencing. Here is the explanation I found,
""A player is considered under pressure when he is in possession of the ball and at least one opponent player nearby him is trying to either recover the ball or limit his options. For each situation, SkillCorner determines the intensity of pressure by considering the speed of the players applying it, their distance to the player in possession and the angle of their movement.""
SkillCorner is a business that tracks a ton of analytics in various sports. Nagbe is at the top of a list that considers data from 28 leagues around the world. Directly behind him are players from Man City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Leverkusen. That is some elite company he sits atop.
I’m very sure soccer elitist snobs will scoff at this and say Nagbe plays in a far inferior league than those other players. I really don’t care how much better the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga are than MLS because I’m a very casual fan of those other leagues. I only really care about the Crew and how they match up with the other teams in MLS. This stat tells me Nagbe is a big part of the club’s success and why they were able to win an MLS Cup title in 2023. That’s all I really care about. While he and Aidan Morris form the best center midfield duo in MLS, I think Nagbe is very underrated by those who cover the league. My hope is this stat will raise a few eyebrows.
By the way, I may be only a casual fan of the Premier League, but I’m all in on cheering for Luton Town to avoid relegation. For no other reason than Kenilworth Road is a gem of an old stadium.