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There will be several early goodbyes for NCAA champion Akron's men's soccer program, but all of the happy variety. That includes junior forward/midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who Friday in St. Louis was named the men's winner of the Hermann Trophy.
Nagbe was the second consecutive Akron player to earn the honor; Teal Bunbury won soccer's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy last year. Nagbe, a consummate playmaker, had seven goals and 13 assists this season for the Zips, who won their school's first NCAA title in any sport with a 1-0 victory Dec. 12 over Louisville.
Since that championship, five underclassmen from Akron have signed contracts to move on to the professional ranks and will be available in the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 13.
Nabge, a 5-foot-9 junior from Lakewood, Ohio, was the Mid-American Conference player of the year. His father, Joe, played for Liberia's national team.
Nagbe and fellow juniors Michael Nanchoff and Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Zarek Valentin and freshmen Perry Kitchen all will leave the Zips, as they have signed with the Generation adidas program. It is a joint venture between MLS and the U.S. national team that provides players with scholarship money to continue their educations whenever they are finished playing professionally.