Lee Nguyen reflects on exit from New England Revolution as well as his return

Lee Nguyen - New England Revolution - Peace signs to the crowd

Lee Nguyen's initial stint with the New England Revolution did not come to a graceful end. 

The fan-favorite and 2014 MVP finalist was traded to LAFC in 2018 amid a contract dispute, where then-head coach sent him off to individual training and he didn't play a minute over the club's first eight games of the season before the trade, despite having appeared in no fewer than 30 games a season over his first six years with the club. 

Still, though, the positive memories didn't fade. He continued to be thankful the Revs took a chance on him and watched him blossom into one of the league's most consistent attacking midfielders. He looked back fondly on that fantastic 2014 season, where Nguyen had 18 goals and five assists as he led his side to 2014 MLS Cup final. 

“Obviously it was bittersweet how it ended," Nguyen told media on a virtual press conference on Thursday. "… I have a lot of love for this club, I always have. I followed them from afar, it was hard how we parted ways but I never lost love for this club."

But Nguyen is back in New England. And he has a point to prove after arriving in a trade from Inter Miami where he played just 92 minutes for the expansion side this season.

“Obviously I wasn’t in the plans of the Inter coach so obviously it was frustrating," Nguyen said. "I feel like my skill set could still be a big use to any team.”

"I still think he has enough to help our roster," head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena said. He adds he was "surprised" Nguyen was available. "When I was in LA, I saw him play with LAFC and I still thought he was a very good player. I still think he is. He’s a proven player in this league, with a history of scoring goals and being a playmaker. I think that’s something our team can utilize.”

Nguyen appeared on the Revs' radar last week as Miami respected his wishes to find more playing time, Arena said. After the trade was made, Nguyen drove up from south Florida to the Boston area (Google Maps suggests that's about a 22-hour car ride) and underwent a three-day quarantine. He's available for selection in the Revs' Saturday match against the Philadelphia Union (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming).

Arena cautioned not to expect a ton of minutes immediately for Nguyen as he works towards match fitness — he last appeared in an MLS match on August 30 when he played 15 minutes off the bench in Miami's 1-0 loss to Nashville SC. He also said that Nguyen can help the team both in a more box-to-box midfield role or as an attacking No. 10.

Nguyen's history of goal contributions could be a huge boost to the Revs, who are without talisman and 2019 Newcomer of the Year Carles Gil due to an injury. 

“We’re going to wait and see," Arena said on if Nguyen is the primary replacement for Gil. "We’ll be smart about this, we won’t make any bold predictions or statements of how he’ll fit in, but I do believe he’ll fit in and fit in well.”