As captain, Nguyen aims to lead by example: “I want to go about it the right way”

Lee Nguyen captain's armband (2)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Every captain approaches their duties differently. The objective is always to lead, but how to best lead depends on the individual. Some are vocal, rallying the troops with their words. Others are more reserved, choosing instead to set an example with their actions.

Lee Nguyen prefers the latter.

“I’ve played with a lot of great players, and all the best captains lead by example,” Nguyen said after wrapping up his fifth season with the New England Revolution. “Whether it’s off the pitch or on the pitch, I want to go about it the right way, train the right way and work hard.”

Nguyen first wore the captain’s armband on May 14 in the Revolution’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire, and promptly scored the game-winning goal in the 22nd minute. But as captain, Nguyen is just as concerned with what he does on the training field as he is with his performance on a Saturday night.

“You’ve got to approach practice and training and games with the same mentality,” said Nguyen, who served as captain for the Revolution’s final 23 games in 2016. “You train how you play. We’ve been preached that since we were little.

“If you play with that intensity in training, then it’s going to transfer over to games. We need to have that type of intensity every day, so it just pushes everyone both on and off the field.”

Moving into 2017, Nguyen wants the Revolution’s mentality to shift. Asked about missing the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012, he said that the Revs shouldn’t have been content even if they had clinched a spot in the postseason – instead, their objectives should be much loftier.

As captain, Nguyen will have a big part to play in instilling that mentality.

“This is one of the best teams in all the years I’ve played here, so I feel like our attitude, our demands, need to be higher,” he said. “It can’t just be making the playoffs and being content with that. We have to have higher goals. Losing a game can’t be okay. We can’t go on (losing) streaks like that.

“We’ve got to come in with a mentality next year that we’re not just a team that’s going to compete to make the playoffs. This team is a lot bigger than that.”