Lee Nguyen USMNT

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution fans will have to wait until next Sunday to watch their beloved club take on the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship, but it’s just as well – two of New England’s key contributors will be otherwise engaged this weekend.


Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen are currently with the U.S. National Team preparing for Friday’s friendly meeting with Colombia, scheduled to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) at Craven Cottage in London.


WATCH PARTY: Join fellow Revs fans at the Banshee to support the USMNT!

Concerns about the duo’s absence from Revolution camp this week as the club prepares for its first conference championship appearance since 2007 are natural, but ultimately unnecessary. In fact, Jones believes the pair will benefit from playing a game against high-level competition, rather than simply train.


“It’s good. You stay sharp,” Jones said. “When you play week-by-week, you don’t lose much … We have a game to play. I like to play more than train.”


While the U.S. National Team will travel from London to Dublin this weekend ahead of another friendly on Tuesday against Ireland, both Jones and Nguyen have indicated that they may be released after Friday’s game to return to the Revs, giving them a full week to prepare with their club teammates.


The Revolution’s training schedule calls for off days on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, allowing the duo to physically rest and mentally shift their focus back to the MLS Cup Playoffs.


“That’s football. You have your club duties and now you’ve got the international duties,” said Nguyen, who is hoping to make his first USMNT appearance in more than seven years on Friday. “I’ve got to focus on the task at hand and try to prove myself. At the same time, I’ve got to take it game-by-game, so the week after that the focus turns to the playoffs.”


Revolution head coach Jay Heaps understands the balance that exists between club and country – he spent a month away from the Revs during the 2009 MLS season while on Gold Cup duty with the U.S. National Team.


While Heaps certainly wouldn’t mind having his entire roster available at all times, he also admits that there are worse problems to have than players performing well enough to represent their countries.


“It’s part of our league, it’s part of our business of soccer that you’re going to have players leave,” Heaps said. “There’s always going to be club and country and I think that it’s an important part of soccer. We have to embrace it and make sure that we handle the next game the best we can.”