The New England Revolution has brought back another former player today with Lee Nguyen from Inter Miami. Nguyen is the third former player to return in the 2020 season for the Revolution, joining Kelyn Rowe and Seth Sinovic in returning to Foxborough. While fans may be split on Nguyen’s opinion with how he left the club in 2018, this is a smart signing by the front office from a purely tactical sense.
The loss of Carles Gil has left a large gap in the roster. The Revolution have missed a creative presence at the number 10. They have tried a couple of formational changes and multiple options to find the creativity and chance creation lost due to Gil’s injury. Against the Impact at the MLS is Back Tournament; Gil played his only full 90 of this season, creating 12 chances, which according to OptaJack was, the most in a single game by a Revolution player since they started tracking the MLS. Opportunities have been lacking in recent matches. While finishing has been a problem, having someone setting up people in the right place can go miles to create a stronger offensive side.
Lee Nguyen, as a player, fils this role and helps improve the team as a whole. While Tommy McNamara has been working had to help with creativity, it is not a natural position. Nguyen’s best years in the league were all with the Revolution. In 208 games with the Revolution, he produced 54 goals and 35 assists, including his MVP nominated year (still should have won that) of 2014 of 18 goals and 4 assists. He has had a significant drop in his minutes since moving to LAFC in 2018 and seen very little of the pitch in 2020 with Inter Miami. His vision and drive into the attacking third is something that should help free up Gustavo Bou and Adam Buska. His service will also help the Revolution on free kicks, which will hopefully bode well for Adam Buska and others. A small side note is that Nguyen has played in Gillette on the turf, making acclimation time to the surface lower. The only downside is that he will need to get match sharp as he has played minimal minutes this season.
His time at LAFC and Inter Miami will only provide a chip on Nguyen’s shoulder to prove that he can still cut it in the MLS. This deal is a low-risk deal for the Revolution with a high ceiling if he can find some good form.
One final note. Yes, the way he left was not what the fanbase would have liked, and I know some who most likely will not forgive him. Everything he is saying is correct and may be scripted, but he genuinely seems to care about the New England fanbase, so give him a shot.