New England Soccer Today

5 Thoughts on Nguyening: The Lee Nguyen Story

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Over the holiday weekend, soccer fans in the area were given an extra treat in the form of “NguyenING: The Lee Nguyen Story.” The 30-minute documentary, which was directed by Alfonso Bui, debuted on Comcast Sports Net New England on Saturday, giving Revolution fans a remarkable glimpse into the career of the veteran midfielder.

While the general storyline is probably familiar to most fans of the Foxboro XI, there were certainly a few items that stood out.

(*NOTE: For those who haven’t seen it yet, CSNNE will air it again on Thursday at 8:30pm and Sunday at 6:00pm. It’ll be available on YouTube starting on Thursday.)

1. The documentary started off with Nguyen’s father, Pham, recalling the years leading up to his departure from Vietnam in 1973. At the time, the country was neck deep in the Vietnam War, and Pham eventually settled in Texas, where Lee was born in 1986. While Vietnam is decades removed from the war, it was interesting to hear Pham talk about the horrors he witnessed in the years leading up to his decision to leave, and how badly he wanted his children to succeed here in the States.

2. What could’ve been? After Nguyen’s freshman year at Indiana in 2006, he went to PSV Eindhoven, where Guus Hiddink was in charge. During his first season, Nguyen didn’t get much playing time, a situation he said could’ve improved had Hiddink not taken the head coaching spot for Russia leading up to the 2008 Euros. Had Hiddink stayed, and Nguyen received more minutes the following year, who knows if he ever would’ve landed in New England?

3. The comments from both Charlie Davies and Dax McCarty, both longtime friends and fellow U.S. National Team products, offered a unique perspective about Nguyen’s decision to return to the U.S. Davies mentioned Nguyen’s intent to prove people wrong after he’d been “written off” following his tumultuous European career while McCarty said Nguyen was “homesick,” and the former Hoosier was eager to return to the U.S. following his time in the Vietnamese 1st division.

4. How much did that first encounter against Vancouver really mean to Nguyen? Plenty, to put it lightly. After the team waived him after what was essentially a preseason trial, Nguyen linked up with New England, where he soon established himself as a key piece to Jay Heaps’ new look squad. But before he signed with the Revolution, Nguyen admitted he wasn’t happy with how it ended with the Whitecaps. Said Nguyen: “At that time, I was really angry because I didn’t get the chance to show what I could do. They didn’t believe in me.”

5a. Nguyen spoke about his endless pursuit of perfection, which he carries onto the training grounds every day. He talked about being disappointed even if he had a poor touch in practice. The dedication to the craft, and the importance of improving on the training grounds, is probably one of the biggest reasons why Heaps believed Nguyen was deserving of the armband last year.

5b. For all that Nguyen has brought to the table for the past five-plus years, it’s shame the organization didn’t find a suitable replacement for Jermaine Jones last year. Jones’ arrival was a major boost to Nguyen, who finished off the 2014 in the form of his life to help steer the Revolution to the MLS Cup final (and get a shout for an MVP nod in the process). Nguyen talked about how the 2014 final was one of the the most bittersweet moments of his career. In that vein, it would’ve been nice for the organization to bring in another prime-time player to help him get another crack at a title.

BONUS: After watching the scenes of scoring sequences from Taylor Twellman, Jay Heaps, Steve Ralston, and then, of course, Nguyen, I wondered: whatever happened to players jumping into The Fort after a goal?

Leave a Reply