He scored two goals and set up another in New England’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“That’ll learn ya” is one of yesteryear’s great phrases, and it may or may not still be in use. It’s hard to define exactly what it means, but in the right hands, it’s slick, versatile and potentially devastating (when deployed at just the right moment). It’s sort of like Nguyen on the soccer field.
Nguyen only plays for the Revs because Vancouver didn’t want him. He joined the Canadian club in early 2012 after it won a weighted lottery for his rights. But management decided to waive him a week before the season started, and he fell into the Revs’ waiting arms.
Whether he’d like to admit or not, Nguyen was fired up about the first game against the team that cut him. Revolution head coach Jay Heaps understood his special motivation and worked to make sure the attacker channeled it in the right way.
“This week, we had a quiet little talk with him and said, ‘Hey, this is a good moment for him,'” Heaps said. “You’re going to play against your former team. As a former player who played against my former team, the Miami Fusion, a few times, there is something there when someone says you’re expendable or they want to move on without you.
“I don’t think it was never that [Whitecaps head coach] Martin Rennie or the organization didn’t think he was a good player, because I know they did. It was not against the organization. It was just one of those where you feel a little bit slighted, and he showed it tonight.”
Nguyen didn’t talk about a the revenge factor. He said all the right things about being happy for the team to add three points to its season total.
“I wouldn’t say revenge,” Nguyen said. “I’m just relieved. I’m just happy we got the win. The way it ended up, I couldn’t have dreamt it any better. I’m just glad for my teammates. We worked hard and we didn’t give up after that first goal. It was a great win.”
But Nguyen stamped his authority on the game from the start. After the Revs fell behind in the fifth minute, it was Nguyen who scored the equalizer — his first-ever MLS goal — just a minute later. He assisted on Saer Sene‘s goal, which put the Revs in the lead.
In the second half, Nguyen unleashed a rocket that showed up on all the nightly highlight shows. He controlled a throw-in from Chris Tierney with one touch, then hit a right-footed drive past goalkeeper Joe Cannon from some way out.
His celebration answered the age-old question: “What exactly does ‘that’ll learn ya’ mean?”
See Nguyen’s strike in the video below.