For a 33-year-old who hasn’t played a whole lot in the last two-years Lee Nguyen is showing some serious hustle. Following the news that New England had acquired the midfielder in a transfer with Inter Miami the former Revs player hopped in his Tesla and drove to Massachusetts from where he was staying in Florida.
That hustle is paying dividends already with Nguyen being available to be selected for Saturday’s match-day roster against the Philadelphia Union. If Nguyen had elected to fly to New England it would have required a ten-day quarantine, driving cuts that down to just three days.
“He drove up from Fort Lauderdale, so he has a three-day quarantine and that makes him eligible to play in our game on Saturday,’ said Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena on Nguyen’s potential availability. “His fitness levels are certainly not going to be at the level of players that have been playing on a regular basis. He had limited minutes in Miami, so we’re going to be well aware of that. In his initial opportunities with our team, his minutes are certainly going to be limited. We’re hopeful we can get him up to speed in a short period of time, and by the end of September, he’ll be better positioned to play significant minutes.”
You can’t help but admire the effort to get to New England as quickly as possible and it shows that Nguyen appears to be highly committed to making stint two with the Revs as success.
While the coaching staff is completely different from when Nguyen last played for the team in 2018 their are a number of familiar faces in the locker room that will make the transition into the team a lot easier for the veteran.
“I’m excited, obviously there’s a lot of familiar faces so it’ll be an easier transition as opposed to going somewhere else, so that was nice,” said newly acquired Revolution Midfielder Lee Nguyen on familiar faces. “A lot of guys reached out, Scotty [Caldwell], [Andrew] Farrell, Toni [Antonio Delamea] – these guys. We’ve talked on social media and texting, so it was great to hear from them. Like I said, I’m stoked to get started. Made the drive the night I got traded directly so I could get here as soon as possible so I could get with these guys and start playing.”
Friedel Fall-out, Wasn’t On Same Page With Inter Miami Gaffer Either
Of course the ending of Nguyen’s first stint in New England wasn’t exactly amicable. Former Head Coach Brad Friedel questioned Nguyen’s fitness and commitment to the system he wanted to run. Nguyen who was one of the most productive players in MLS in the mid-to-late 2010’s didn’t appear in a single MLS match for Friedel and was traded to LAFC in the Summer of 2018. That being said, Friedel is no longer in New England after he and Mike Burns got the boot for a historically bad start to the 2019 season.
“Obviously, it was bittersweet how it ended here,” said Nguyen on his memories from playing in New England. ” This is the club that took a chance on me when I came into the league. I hoped perhaps because it gave me my first start to build something here. I had a lot of love for this club and I always have, even when I left. I always wished well for this club and followed them from afar. It was unfortunate the way we parted ways, but I’ve never lost love for this club, so when I have the chance to come back and Bruce said I could be a big help for this team, I was excited. I’m looking forward to being able to compete and hopefully try to finish what we started here and that’s to win a [MLS] Cup and bring it back to New England. My favorite memories were from that 2014 year when we made that run to the final. We were so close and that right there was one of my favorite years ever. Like I said, it was a great feeling to know that I had the opportunity to come back and finish what we started here.”
One of the major question-marks with Nguyen is his fitness level and his ability to jive with the coaching staff. While Arena and his staff is nothing like Inter Miami’s it is worth noting Nguyen’s lack of playing time in Miami was similar to why he didn’t see action in 2018 for the Revs.
“Everyone here who’s seen me knows my game,” said Nguyen on if he still has something to prove. “It was more that I wasn’t on the same page with the Inter coach, so that was frustrating to not be able to get playing time there. I feel like my skillsets are still a big use and can help at any time with any team. When Bruce says we can use you, I jumped at that idea for sure. I feel like I have a lot left in the tank to give and I want to bring this [MLS] Cup to New England.”
What Nguyen can do at his peak and what he can do now might be completely different. But for a Revolution attack that has lacked creativity goal scoring ability anytime you can bring someone in who has the track record of Nguyen you do it.
Nguyen and the Revolution will take on the Union this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Subaru Park.