FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – If Lee Nguyen continues to perform at his current level for the New England Revolution, he could soon find himself sporting a different kind of red, white and blue.
The masterful midfielder scored a pair of second-half goals on Wednesday night to complete New England’s comeback win over Sporting Kansas City and up his tally to six goals and two assists in the last six games.
All told, Nguyen has notched a career-best and team-high 12 goals on the season, making him the top scoring midfielder in MLS and tying him with LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes as the league’s top scoring American.
Surely U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is paying attention.
“I think Lee is showing you what he can do,” Revs head coach Jay Heaps said after Nguyen’s two-goal performance against the defending champions. “You guys see it game in and out, but we see it every day. He’s really special. He’s got the quickest feet in the league and if you give him a little bit of space, he can hit a ball as good as anyone.”
Nguyen was given a little bit of space twice on Wednesday night and made Sporting KC pay on both occasions.
He began the sequence which led to his first goal in the 48th minute – what turned out to be his league-leading sixth game-winner – by forcing a turnover in midfield. Daigo Kobayashi then sprayed a pass down the left wing to Kelyn Rowe, who slipped a square pass inside to Nguyen for a curling finish into the top corner.
Nguyen continued to harass and harry the Sporting KC midfield and defense even into the fourth minute of stoppage time, when he blocked a clearance to set Patrick Mullins on a counter. Mullins then laid off a pass for Nguyen, who drilled his effort low and inside the far post.
In the past two games, Nguyen has created all three of his goals by forcing turnovers.
“When he’s working really hard, when he’s on both sides of the ball and he’s picking off loose balls or stepping in and tackling people, he’s almost a double threat,” said Heaps. “When he (gets a) turnover and you can’t get a guy to him and he has a little bit of space, he lights up the field.”
At the moment, Nguyen is lighting up the league, helping the Revs win three straight and climb into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference standings. He has scored or assisted on five of the Revolution’s seven goals through that three-game stretch.
While Nguyen hasn’t earned the league-wide recognition others have this season – “He should’ve been at the All-Star game,” said teammate Teal Bunbury – he’s forced his way into the MVP discussion in recent weeks.
And about that call from Klinsmann? Keep performing and it can’t be far off.