FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There was never a doubt that surgery would be required to fix the chronic instability in Lee Nguyen’s right shoulder. It was just a matter of determining the proper point in time to schedule the operation.
That moment finally arrived on Monday, when the team announced that Nguyen will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing a Latarjet procedure to repair the damage and will likely return to full participation in four months.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps said Nguyen – in consultation with club executives, medical professionals and technical staffers – underwent the procedure now to ensure he will recover in time for the start of next season.
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“This was talked about with the doctors, the staff and the general manager just to make sure we were doing right by the player,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday morning. “The player had a lot of say in where he sees his career going. He needed the surgery. This was really the right time to do it.”
The operation offers a sudden cap to a fine first season for Nguyen in New England. The 25-year-old collected five goals and two assists in 30 appearances after arriving from Vancouver through the Waiver Draft in March and established himself as a fixture in Heaps' starting XI.
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Heaps said Nguyen's creative influence and deft work in possession aided the Revs this season and ensured a significant role for him in the side heading into next season.
“He's a special player,” Heaps said. “He receives the ball under any type of pressure with two or three guys on him. He took a beating this year. He got whacked three or four times every game he played. I think he created quite a bit. He's someone we really want to rely on going forward.”
His temporary absence creates a vacancy in the crowded Revolution midfield. Heaps said several of the potential options to assume Nguyen's usual left midfield role – a group that includes the likes of Fernando Cárdenas, Benny Feilhaber and Juan Toja – have attempted to show they warrant more playing time in training this week ahead of Saturday's match in Houston.
“We've known that this surgery was going to happen for a couple of weeks,” Heaps said. “The players didn't know, but once they realized that a guy who has been a consistent starter will be out of the lineup, [they realized] there's an opportunity there. You can see guys stepping up to want to get that chance.”