In a pre-game interview just before kickoff Wednesday night against Ecuador, ESPN's Taylor Twellman asked U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to name a player in each position who had the most to gain this summer. In midfield, he picked Darlington Nagbe.
Perhaps Nagbe can hear through walls.
Entering as a second-half substitute, he brought energy, skill and dynamism to the MNT attack, and the effort was rewarded with the last-minute winner when he finished off some fine work from DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood.
"It felt great," said Nagbe of his first goal for the United States. "I’ve been wanting my first goal to come, and in a big game like this before Copa America against a good team, I was happy it was in this game.”
Of his efforts in Ecuador's attacking half, he said that Klinsmann has been encouraging all of his midfielders to play a bigger role.
“He just wants me to get on the ball, same as all," Nagbe said. "For all of his midfielders, he just us to get on the ball and continue to get possession and help create."
One youngster who also heeded those words was former PA Classics midfielder Christian Pulisic. The 17-year-old showed poise, confidence and a clean touch in his 27 minutes on the park. Entering only his second match for the senior team, he said Klinsmann's instructions were simple.
“He said to just be dangerous and go do what I do," Pulisic offered. "Of course I have to help the team and try to make a difference in the game.”
As he continues to get integrated into the group, Pulisic is here to contribute however he can going into this huge tournament.
“We have 23 very strong players," he said. "Of course everyone wants to start and that’s the goal, but I just want to be successful with the team. Whether that’s starting or coming off the bench, that’s fine by me. It’s the coach’s decision and I’m just happy to be here.”
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