Portland Timbers' Darlington Nagbe is a 'great fit' for U.S. - Jurgen Klinsmann

Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe has only made two substitute appearances for the the United States, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann is already calling him a "great fit."

Klinsmann had to wait to call up the 25-year-old until he became a U.S. citizen in September, and he played in his first international games in two World Cup qualifiers last week against St. Vincent and the Grenadines Trinidad and Tobago.

And the U.S. coach said he liked what Nagbe has brought to the squad so far.

"We found a player that is really good handling the ball in both directions," Klinsmann said. "He is responsible defensively, to always go behind the ball and to defend, and help out. When we go forward, he knows when to pass, when to dribble, when to keep things racing forward, and also when to take some risks in a certain moment.

"He has a change of pace in one-on-one situations when he goes at defensive midfielders. He has the confidence to get past them and to get closer to the box.

"Darlington is a real nice option now going forward. He had to wait a long time, and we've been waiting for him as well, but it's a great fit and we are glad to have him on board."

Nagbe's international debut came in the middle of the Timbers' MLS playoff run, with the club now one step from reaching its first MLS final after Sunday's 3-1 win over FC Dallas in the first leg of their Western Conference final.

Klinsmann called the MLS playoffs "tremendously exciting."

The games in the first round with the penalty shootout, to Portland and Kansas City, to games that were very close, very tight and hard fought. It's been very exciting. The stadiums are packed, the fans are fully engaged and the teams battle themselves through.

"Sometimes you have your favorite pick then you realize after a game or two, your favorite is not there anymore and out of the playoffs. It's at another level this year and I can't wait to see the MLS Cup final."

Some of the futures of other American internationals in MLS are more uncertain, with Jermaine Jones' contract with the New England Revolution expiring.

But Klinsmann said Jones' spot in the U.S. squad is not in danger.

"He's not ready to give his spot up," Klinsmann said. "He's 34 years old, but he's a rock. He's in there every time it matters, he stands his man. He makes it clear to the younger players that he's not giving up his spot. These kind of competitions are real important with the team."

As Klinsmann continues to bring young players into the squad, he insisted that Jones and Toronto FC's Michael Bradley remain the core of the team.

"It's real critical between Bradley and Jones, like all the fans know, they are important to our team," Klinsmann said. These two always coordinate themselves on the field. They are experienced and know what to do in specific situations. We constantly go over their tactical approach in a game because they can play many different ways.

"Now you can complement a Jermaine Jones or a Michael Bradley with a more defensive midfielder, like a Kyle Beckerman, or you can complement them with more offensive midfielders, like a Darlington Nagbe or Mix Diskerud. But the heart of this team is always in the center of the park, which is Bradley and Jones."

Klinsmann also said he saw improvement late in the MLS season from striker Jozy Altidore, whose U.S. future seemed in jeopardy after a disappointing Gold Cup in the summer.

"2015 for Jozy Altidore has been a transition year, but it has become a year where he has gotten stronger toward the end," Klinsmann said. "He had some injury issues. He had some fitness issues in the beginning of the year. We had the episode in the Gold Cup where he was not in the shape where he needed to be.

"Toward July, August and September he got more into a flow. He started to score goals for Toronto and he got stronger for the national team, as well. This is a very positive sign for us to have Altidore playing well.

"We plan to bring him into a very busy 2016 with the biggest highlight of Copa America next June."