Will Nagbe reach the incentives in his Atlanta United contract?

Dec 13, 2017

Part of the deal that Atlanta United struck with Portland in Wednesday’s trade for Darlington Nagbe included these incentive clauses that could push the transaction to a record $1.65 million, which would be the largest inter-league transfer in MLS history:

The dollars would be sent to Portland as Targeted Allocation Money. Each has to be accomplished in one season and would be honored just once. In other words, if Nagbe were to score 15 goals in two different seasons, Atlanta United wouldn’t owe Portland $200,00.

While I doubt that Atlanta United is particularly concerned about the money, here’s why it’s unlikely that the team will have to dip into its coffers:

Twelves Goals scored: Nagbe has yet to score more than nine goals in a season. That career-high came in 2013. In the past three seasons combined, he has nine goals. Add that to the fact that Atlanta United is filled with goal-scorers and while Nagbe may score at least 12 goals, it doesn’t seem likely.

Fifteen assists: Nagbe has yet to post more than seven assists in a season. That career-high came in 2014. In the past three seasons combined, he has 15 assists. If he plays on the left, where Yamil Asad played, reaching 15 assists is possible. Asad notched 13.

Top 3 in points and Atlanta United wins MLS Cup: Individual points (2 for a goal, 1 for an assist) isn’t a stat that MLS keeps. The league did track that stat from 1996-2001.

But, for the sake of fun, here are Nagbe’s point totals each season:

2017: 11 (3 goals, 5 assists)

2016: 7 (1 goal, 5 assists)

2015: 15 points (5 goals, 5 assists)

2014: 9 points (1 goal, 7 assists)

2013: 22 points (9 goals, 4 assists)

2012: 13 points (6 goals, 1 assist)

2011: 7 goals (2 goals, 3 assists)

Unless he scores a lot more goals in Atlanta United’s system, it’s unlikely he’s going to be among the top-3 in points at season’s end. Plus, Atlanta United would need to win the MLS Cup.

MVP: Nagbe has never finished among the top-3 vote getters for the award.