Jay Heaps couldn't believe his luck when he learned that Lee Nguyen was waved by the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Revolution manager made sure there were no major issues with the player before making a decision that looks like a no-brainer.
"We were a little shocked to see his availability," Heaps told Revolutionsoccer.net. "We did a little bit of reconnaissance and found out that it was just a matter of a numbers crunch up there in Vancouver. So we want to make sure that we give him an opportunity to succeed."
The Revs acquired Nguyen in Friday's MLS waiver draft. The 25-year-old signed attacker will join up with his new team early next week. There's an outside chance that he will play some role in New England's 2012 season opener on March 10.
Nguyen signed with MLS in December, and landed in Vancouver via a weighted lottery. He reportedly played well in the Whitecaps' preseason, but not well enough stick with that club.
When Vancouver waived him on Thursday, his name went into the draft. New England held the first pick and snapped up the former U.S. international.
The Texan brings versatility, experience and a scoring touch to a team that is looking to play a possession-oriented style. He has played as a winger and second forward for much of his career.
Nguyen was a standout player at the youth and collegiate levels before heading to Europe to begin his professional career. He left the University of Indiana after one season (in 2006), joining Dutch power PSV Eindhoven. He broke into the first team under the tutelage of then-manager Guus Hiddink, but was relegated to the reserves when Ronald Koeman took charge after the 2005-06 season.
He was unable to stick with the first team, and moved to Danish club Randers FC in early 2008. There, he played 24 games in parts of two seasons before making a much-publicized move to the Far East.
Nguyen was a sensation in his two-and-a-half years in Vietnamese soccer. His American accent and European experience made him a pop star. He was an on-field standout as well, scoring 14 goals in 29 games.
Now a seasoned professional, Nguyen hopes to shine in MLS and resume his national team career. He made three appearances in 2007, but has not played for senior team since then. Vancouvers rejection could see him take the field for New England with a chip on his shoulder. Heaps should not have a problem with that.
"I think I've matured a lot since leaving college," Nguyen said. "I guess I've been pro now for five, six years and it's just about having a lot more experience, playing under a lot of different coaches and formations and being able to see a lot of different styles of play all over the world.
"I've gained a lot of experience and I'm looking forward to coming back and playing in MLS now," he added. "This is a new style and a new type of play, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Photo via Flickr/vikhoa
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