FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were enough selection problems in the New England midfield ahead of Saturday's 2-1 defeat to D.C. United, even before Lee Nguyen contracted a fever that would have sidelined just about everyone else on the field.
Nguyen told Revolution medical staffers that he didn't feel well on Friday, but he felt even worse by the time Saturday morning hit and presented Revolution coach Jay Heaps with a significant dilemma.
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“He was a little bit under the weather [on Friday],” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday's match. “We thought it was allergies. Today, he woke up and he was clearly sick. We found out through the trainers that he woke up this morning and he had a temperature, chills, shivers and all of the stuff you don't want.”
Despite all of those symptoms, Nguyen made himself available for the match after receiving medical treatment prior to the game. Shalrie Joseph couldn't feature because of suspension and Benny Feilhaber couldn't play for more than a half after returning from injury, but Nguyen wouldn't let his illness add to the concerns.
“Poor Lee had a 100-something temperature and [he was] taking [intravenous fluids] before the game,” Heaps said. “He went out there and gutted out a performance.”
Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe said he and his teammates didn't notice much of a drop off in Nguyen's play despite his illness. He may have “looked about dead,” in Rowe's estimation, but he didn't play like it.
“Lee was tough,” Rowe said after the match. “He worked back as much as he worked forward. We respected that from him. When he couldn't work back, Clyde [Simms, Revolution midfielder] and I pushed over to the left to give him some time to get back. Luckily for us, he was able to run back as much as he could.”
Nguyen finally succumbed to his health concerns after 55 minutes and made way for Feilhaber in midfield. Heaps lauded his overall contribution and said he didn't want to take him off unless he had to do so.
“He wanted to play and he was going to play,” Heaps said. “He felt good. When you get into the game and you get moving, he did well at times. I could see it in his eyes during the second half, because he was closer to me. At that point, we got him off and got him rested.”