LOS ANGELES – Even before the MLS Players Association released its annual MLS Players Salary Guide this week, kicking off familiar conversations assessing players in terms of economical value, at least one name on the list was already tired of the business side of the beautiful game.
“Right now, my focus is just to get settled and try to make an impact as quick as possible and do what I do,” Nguyen said this week when asked whether he’s discussed his long-term future with his new club. “The reason they brought me in.”
After six years with the New England Revolution — and a prolonged transfer saga that left the playmaker in Revs purgatory to start the 2018 campaign— Nguyen is relieved to finally concentrate on the part of professional football he’s best at: playing it.
“Everyone here is so on top of everything,” the 31-year-old US international told MLSsoccer.com over the phone Thursday following his new club’s 2-0 victory over Minnesota United on Wednesday. “[LAFC] wanted me to focus on football and anything else outside of it, let them know, and they’ll help take care of any needs off the field.”
Having never been traded before, Nguyen admitted there were some challenges associated with abruptly moving one’s life across the country. But he says the staff at his new club has “gone over and above on everything” to make his transition as smooth as possible.
Coming off the bench in his first two games, Nguyen has seen 25 minutes of action for LAFC so far, but he’s already learning there will be some adjustments from how he’s been utilized in the past.
“Bob [Bradley] is very detail-oriented in how he likes to play in terms of tactics and shapes,” said Nguyen. “When I was with New England, I had more of a free role where I could roam and go find the game. Here it’s a little different, where I can trust the guys and know that I don’t need to go everywhere to try to find the ball. I can stay put and know that the movements of the ball is going to flow and eventually find me.”
Nguyen spoke to how training with the likes of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Benny Feilhaber and Omar Gaber has further ingrained his sense of belonging in a corps of players who have “similar styles and tendencies where we like to play those one-twos.”
Naturally, as a former MVP finalist who’s started the bulk of his nearly 200 career MLS matches, Nguyen hopes to get into the starting XI in due course. But as he gets settled in his new home, he’s preaching patience.
“I’ve just got to trust the process, trust the players,” he said ahead of Sunday's visit from New York City FC (8:30 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info).. “That’s something that Bob has tried to integrate with me when I came here.”
More than anything, Nguyen is happy to finally be able to get back on the field for matches.
“Being out there on the pitch again and getting that gameday feeling, it feels great,” he said of his experiences so far at Banc of California Stadium. “Now it’s just about getting more minutes under my belt and getting comfortable with the guys on the pitch, and everything is going to flow naturally.”