FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lee Nguyen never made a regular-season appearance for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but Saturday night still represents a chance for the 25-year-old midfielder to face his former team.
Nguyen was acquired by the Whitecaps via weighted lottery this past December and spent the majority of the 2012 preseason training with the second-year club, but his spell north of the border came to an abrupt end on March 1 when he was unexpectedly waived just nine days before the season opener.
“It was a little surprising because I had a really good preseason and I did really well there,” said Nguyen. “All my teammates thought I did really well and they were expecting me to play a lot this season with them.”
Vancouver’s decision to part ways with Nguyen was a pleasant surprise for the Revs, who snapped him up just 24 hours after he was waived. Nguyen has appeared in each of the Revolution’s first nine games – starting seven – and this weekend he’s looking forward to renewing acquaintances with his former teammates on the field.
“It’ll be great to see them again,” he said. “I got really close with a lot of them during preseason.”
Catching up with friends is one reason Nguyen’s excited for the Whitecaps to visit Gillette Stadium, but he’s also eager to prove his worth to a former employer which essentially deemed him expendable. Nguyen would love for his performance on Saturday night to make Vancouver’s management feel a pang of regret.
“I think every player always has that little chip on their shoulder when that happens,” Nguyen said. “When I get the chance, I want to prove that maybe they wish they would’ve kept me now.”
Nguyen admits he was “in shock” when he was waived by the Whitecaps, but he speaks fondly of his brief time in Vancouver and his experiences in the Pacific Northwest. His life was a whirlwind for a few days between leaving Vancouver and joining New England, but in hindsight Nguyen is able to appreciate the circumstances which brought him to the Revolution.
And he couldn’t be happier.
“He didn’t see me in his plans,” Nguyen said, referencing Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie. “So it was kind of the best for both parties.
“I love it (here in New England),” he added. “I’m very grateful that [Revolution head coach Jay Heaps] saw something in me and I just want to return the favor to the club and to the fans.”