New England Soccer Today

Klinsmann Praises Nguyen as ‘Winner’ of USMNT Camp

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann/Prost Amerika

It appears that Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen has made a fan out of a very important person during the current U.S. Men’s National Team camp.

In the wake of Nguyen’s 90-minute showing against Iceland on Sunday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann credited the Revolution playmaker’s work ethic and preparation in the weeks leading up to the match.

“After three weeks of training, he’s definitely one of the winners of this period,” Klinsmann told on Wednesday. “He was really prepared for this camp. From day one he set the tone. He said, ‘OK I was here last year, and I didn’t make the impression that I wanted to make, so I better make it right now.’ So he was unquestionably in the starting lineup after a week.”

Interestingly, Sunday’s match – which the U.S. won 3-2 on a late Steve Birnbaum goal – marked the first time the 29-year-old midfielder was in the starting XI for the U.S.

One thing that aided Nguyen’s cause: his familiarity with the program and the players around him. After going nearly seven years between call-ups, Nguyen earned his first invitation to the annual January camp last year, and his second go-round allowed him to mesh with his fellow U.S. teammates.

“Being in camp for the past two years, I was able to start to get comfortable with the guys around me now – they start to know my tendencies,” Nguyen told on Wednesday. “And I think you starting to see they’re more comfortable finding me in those gaps for me if I can interlink the play between the midfield and the forwards.”

Linking the midfield and forwards is exactly what has made Nguyen one of the Revolution’s best attacking players in recent years. But it wasn’t until Sunday’s match that he got to show his chops as a hybrid no. 8/10 at the national team level.

“So he played this connector role in the second half, and he loves to do that, because obviously he’s higher up the field, and we know that he can score as well,” Klinsmann said. “If he gets in shooting position we know that Lee has a tremendous shot, which he shows in New England.”

Of course, anyone who’s watched Nguyen, who’s scored 25 goals and collected 15 assists at the club level since 2014, in a Revolution uniform over the last two seasons wasn’t surprised by the in-game switch.

“I like playing either or because both ways I get to tuck in and find the game,” he said. “But obviously, I’ve played most of my games with the Revs underneath, so obviously I’m comfortable there. But at the same time it’s easy to play on the side, too.”

Nguyen and the U.S. will officially close the book on the January camp on Friday when they face Canada at the StubHub Center at 10:45pm ET. From there, he is expected to re-join his Revolution teammates for their preseason camp sometime next week.

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