Lee Nguyen has had an instant impact on the New England Revolution.
The Texas native made his second appearance for the Revolution this afternoon, starting the bout against NYCFC and earning 88 minutes of game time until he made way for Adam Buksa. This is the first time he’s played over 80 minutes since September 25, 2019, when he clocked in a full 90-minute shift with LAFC.
The Revolution legend was team MVP in 2012 and 2014. He ranks tenth in Revolution history in games played (193), second in Revolution history in assists (49), and third in goals (51). In 2018, he was traded to LAFC, and then moved to Inter Miami after David Beckham’s team signed him in the MLS Expansion Draft in 2019. His stint with Inter Miami presented a fair share of challenges, particularly with finding game time. So, when Bruce Arena came knocking, Lee was open to a return to Foxboro.
“One of the main reasons why I wanted to come back to the Revs was because he was here,” said Nguyen. “He’s not only a great coach but he’s a great player manager. A lot of guys who have played under him always have great things to say about him. He knows how to manage players and I think he’s also a tactical genius. So it’s been a pleasure so far working under him.”
Nguyen, a creative playmaker who operates well under the strikers, offers a similar skill set to that of Carles Gil, who is out for the season due to an Achilles tendon injury. His ability to occupy this void was the main impetus behind this transfer.
“Nguyen is a player with a proven history in our league,” said Bruce Arena. “His ability as both a playmaker and goal scorer will complement our roster. We are excited to have Lee return to our club and city, and we look forward to his contributions as we close out the 2020 season.”
Lee made his first appearance for the Revolution this season against Philadelphia, where he subbed on and clocked in a 14-minute shift. His short time on the pitch is the result of time management and team adjustment more than anything; once he gets accustomed to the team, big minutes will be expected from Nguyen.
This afternoon, Lee made his first start for the Revolution, noting that a good week of training propelled him into the starting eleven.
“I felt great,” said Nguyen after the 0-0 tie. “The staff have done a great job in trying to manage my load throughout this week and trying to be ready for this game. I felt better than what we expected going into it so it was good to get those minutes underneath me. It was great to play with the guys again, lots of familiar faces so it wasn’t too bad picking up right where I left off. We got a lot of great guys on this team and when you’ve got great footballers around you it’s easy to play.”
The playmaker impressed with his performance this afternoon, adding a spark of offensive creativity to the side. On multiple occasions, he picked out an inch-perfect through ball to the offense that picked apart NYCFC’s defense. One of these passes set up Gustavo Buo, whose neatly-tucked finish was called back after the Argentinian was deemed offside.
That is *exactly* what Lee Nguyen provides that the #NERevs have been missing without Carles Gil. What a clever, deft little pass to split the defense and send Bunbury into the box. Great buildup, strong save from Johnson.— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) September 19, 2020
Gil’s injury severed the connection between the backline and the offense, and Lee’s performance today highlighted his ability to repair that link.
“I thought Lee [Nguyen] played well,” said Arena after today’s match. “He’s composed on the ball. Obviously, he is a good passer. It allows our players to get forward. He’s a good player, good experienced player. He allows us to have a little bit of a rhythm in the attack.”
For his efforts against NYCFC today, Nguyen earned the man of the match award.
Another dimension that Nguyen brings to this Revolution team is his wealth of experience, which the Revolution’s youth core has already utilized.
“[Lee and I] actually got breakfast together recently,” said Henry Kessler. “Being one of the new guys, I thought it good to kind of pick his brain a little bit. We didn’t talk about soccer too much. Just talked about off-the-field stuff as well. He’s been in the Boston area a lot, so just asking him about that stuff.”
Nguyen has already made a great first impression with the Revolution, and fans, coaches, and players are optimistic that his impact will carry throughout the remainder of this 2020 season.
How do you think Lee Nguyen will fair this season for the Revolution? Let us know in the comments!