The 31-year-old midfielder, who put up 11 goals and 15 assists last season, maintained that he hopes to move within MLS to another club. Nguyen confirmed he’s under contract through 2018 in New England with options for 2019 and 2020, and is also open to playing outside MLS.
“As a soccer player, as an athlete, you always have to keep an open mind,” Nguyen said. “But at the same time, I’m here, I have a contract for this year and possibly for two more. Whatever happens, I’m open-minded to wherever the soccer journey leads me.”
The Texas native added that he’s shown that he’s “one of the best attacking midfielders in this country and this league” since arriving in MLS in 2012. And he certainly has the numbers to back up that claim. His 100 goals and assists are the sixth-most in MLS since 2012.
However, there’s also the matter of Nguyen’s relationship with Brad Friedel. After showing up three weeks late to preseason camp, the first-year head coach said Nguyen’s exclusion was initially a matter of returning to fitness. With that portion accomplished, Friedel stressed his handling of the 2014 MVP finalist isn’t punitive, even though Nguyen has yet to even make an 18-man gameday roster through six matches.
“I have no issue with Lee,” Friedel said. “We haven’t had one personal back and forth with each other at all. I haven’t punished a player here once. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting a player’s fitness up and playing committed players.”
These latest comments come after Taylor Twellman reported last Sunday that the Revs turned down a trade offer of $750,000 in allocation money from an Eastern Conference team. Nguyen said he saw that report, but didn’t comment further.
He also noted that he has a good relationship with Friedel and communication has always been positive.
“[Conversations are] the fact that he seems to be happy and he’s fine with how I’m working,” Nguyen said. “We have a good relationship and it hasn’t been anything bad about my performance. I’m just training and doing what’s asked of me.”
Friedel noted that Nguyen has featured some with the Revs’ reserves, mostly against New England-area Division 1 college teams. It’s part of global soccer, Friedel said, where sometimes “wonderful players” don’t feature in a matchday roster.
“We had players when I first signed at Tottenham, we had seven or eight full international players who didn’t even make the 25-man roster, so they couldn’t even kick a ball in the Premier League,” Friedel said. “It happens everywhere all over the world.”
In the interim, Diego Fagundez has played as the Revs’ No. 10 in Nguyen’s absence. That’s where Friedel feels the attention should lie. You can see the comparison between the two players since 2012 below.
|Player||Goals Per 90||Assists Per 90||Chances Created Per 90|
“Diego Fagundez, who is the best No. 10 at the club right now, he came in, works really hard every single day, he deserves your stories,” Friedel said. “Right there, Diego Fagundez, not focusing on someone else. Diego Fagundez, I’m going to say it again, is the one who deserves your stories, not someone else.”