FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Midfielder Lee Nguyen has steadily racked up some impressive stats in 2017, and when he took the pitch on Saturday night against league-leading Toronto FC, he scored his 50th career goal.
Nguyen, who was listed on the injury report as questionable with a muscle spasm, was not named to the starting lineup, but came off the bench in the 64th minute. After less than 20 minutes on the field he found the net to put the New England Revolution in front of TFC, 1-0.
Toronto and New England had been scoreless well into the second half when interim head coach Tom Soehn thought it was time for Nguyen to step in.
“The game had opened up at that point. We knew if we could hold them tight, it would open up because they set their backs high,” Soehn recalled. “At that point, you knew Lee could make an impact, and he made a huge impact tonight. I give him a lot of credit for entering the game under difficult circumstances.”
His 50th career goal marked a major milestone not only professionally, but personally.
“It’s not easy to get 50 goals, let alone 50 goals with one club,” Nguyen said. “It’s a big honor and I may reflect on it after the season. I feel like it’s going to be something I look back on and think, ‘wow.’”
Impact is usually the word used to describe Nguyen’s play this season—always making a difference whenever he’s on the field. As Kei Kamara stated, sometimes starting on the bench can pay dividends when you’re thrown into the game at crunch-time.
“Sometimes when you’re sitting out you read the game really well and he’s a creative player,” Kamara said. “He comes on the field and he made something happen. Anything that helps us out. Good ball from Chris (Tierney) to Lee and the finish. It doesn’t matter how it goes in, we just want something to go in and it opened the way for us.”
And opening the way it did as Nguyen went on to record his 15th assist on the season, playing a ball to Kamara, whose header proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory.
“He’s just a fantastic player,” Tierney said of Nguyen. “There’s no two-ways about it. I think if we were playing in a bigger market in this league, he’d be up there in All-Star and MVP voting. He’s that important and quality of a player, so to see him continue to play so well is great for us.”