Lee Nguyen strengthened his MVP candidacy on Saturday by tallying his 18th goal of the year, which makes him both the highest scoring midfielder and American in MLS. His most recent tally was his ninth game-winner of the season, the second-highest mark in league history.
Nguyen’s primary competition for the MVP title comes in the form of the LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and Seattle Sounders’ Obafemi Martins. The three attackers have all been instrumental in their team's success as Martins has scored or assisted in 46% of his team’s goals (30 of 65), Nguyen 47% (23 of 49) and Keane 49% (33 of 69).
The competition will likely be close, but Revolution players already know who their pick is.
"The other MVP candidates are awesome players but probably not as pivotal in their team’s success on the year [as Nguyen has been for us]," A.J. Soares explained. "Lee basically is winning games for us on a weekly basis. I think it’s pretty obvious. For me, it’s an easy choice. Lee’s MVP."
Nguyen, who made 32 appearances this year, has been the driving force in the Revolution’s success. The team is 14-1-2 when the midfielder scores a goal or registers an assist.
Nguyen was even effective during the team’s eight-game winless streak, though the opportunities weren’t ending up in the back of the net. During the losing streak, Nguyen produced 23 chances, which averages out to 3.29 per match.
While many of his teammates have been exposed to Nguyen’s skill for an extended period of time, Jermaine Jones has only recently joined the team. Jones, however, admits that he quickly noticed that Nguyen was an exceptional talent.
"From the first day, I can see that he’s a good player," Jones said. "He’s important to the team. He scores a lot of goals. We’re happy that he plays a really good season."
It will be a few weeks until the league’s MVP is revealed and while he’s honored to be a candidate, Nguyen knows that he must remain focused on the action on the field.
"It’s flattering to be considered MVP," Nguyen commented. "However, we’ve had the same mindset all season: to make playoffs. We knew all along we had the quality to do that, and it’s not just about getting to the playoffs. I think we have chance to go all the way. Now we have to focus on the next game."