Every player wants to represent his country, especially if the stakes are high. This is why it was so disappointing that Lee Nguyen didn’t make the US National Team’s Copa America roster.
Originally part of the provisional 40-man list, Nguyen didn’t make the final 23 as selected by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. It was a disheartening moment, especially since the creative midfielder was named as a "winner" of the January camp just months earlier.
When the news arrived, New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps spoke to Nguyen about using the letdown as motivation.
"We had a long conversation with him about not being selected and how he can use this for the positive," Heaps explained. "I think he’s a real player with motivation and when he plays well, we play well."
Nguyen has recorded a goal and assist in the Revolution’s last three outings. He’s also been working his way into the record books as he’s now fifth all-time in club history in assists. Nguyen is also the sole record-holder in terms of PKs scored for the Revs, as his 13 tops Shalrie Joseph.
Nguyen’s midfield dominance isn’t unheard of as he’s proven to be one of the league’s top talents when in form. In fact, he was a league MVP candidate in 2014 after bagging 18 goals.
What is new for Nguyen is the captain’s armband, which he’s donned during the Revolution's last two games. Although he isn’t the most vocal player on the field, Nguyen leads by example, which is something his coach likes to see.
"He’s also been wearing the captain’s armband and I think that’s just for what he does on the field for our guys," Heaps said. "He not a big, loud, go get ‘em, rah rah guy but, he’s having the individual conversations, he’s having real dialogue with players on an individual level and I really like seeing that and his growth overall."