Nguyen returns with brief appearance in Philly, sets stage for bigger contributions

Lee Nguyen | Black Lives Matter

CHESTER, Pa. – It was only a 14-minute appearance off the bench – and without the benefit of a training session after arriving via trade from Inter Miami CF earlier this week – but Lee Nguyen proved on Saturday night at Subaru Park that he still has plenty to offer the New England Revolution.

Nguyen went 11-for-11 passing and created one chance in his return to the Revs, and his late introduction – along with Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, and Diego Fagundez – helped spark New England to life as they searched for an equalizer while playing down a man.

“I thought he played very well,” sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena said of Nguyen. “You could see his experience and his quality on the field. We only played him (14) minutes. We need to be smart about his minutes right now, but he looks like he’s going to be a good addition to our team.”

Arena said earlier this week that it would likely be late September before Nguyen was at full speed and able to play significant minutes, but he showed his worth even in short bursts on Saturday night, highlighted by a key pass to Buchanan that set up a quality chance just minutes before Buchanan eventually found the Revolution’s short-lived equalizer in their 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union.

“I think Lee came in and did really well,” said center back Andrew Farrell, who became the fourth player in Revolution history to eclipse the 20,000-minutes-played mark on Saturday. “As you can see, he’s really good on the ball. We know that. What he’s done, an MVP-type run that he had in 2014. When he came in he just facilitates the play, can find the passes. He’s getting the ball combined really well and he’s somebody that can create chances for us. I think that’s something that we’ve been lacking a little bit.”

It was Nguyen’s first appearance in a Revolution jersey since October 2017, and while it didn’t come under ideal circumstances – the Revs were down a man following the 56th-minute ejection of Matt Polster and ultimately conceded a heartbreaking winner deep into stoppage time – it set the stage for potentially bigger contributions through the final 12 games of the regular season.

“If we’re in a game where we have 11 guys, I think we’d be even more dangerous with him on the field,” said Farrell. “But again, we know Lee really well. When he’s on, he’s a really, really good player in this league. He’s had that MVP-type season. Adding a player like that to a team that, I think, is really well-balanced but competitive. We need to keep on trying to get better and better. I think he adds a lot to our team.”