May 12, Lee Nguyen led the New England Revolution by scoring a brace of goals and assisting another to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, who waived him without ever giving the midfielder a runout in a game. A surprised crowd of 12,112 at Gillette Stadium watched his inspired performance snap the Whitecaps’ three-game winning streak.
“There is something there when someone says you’re expendable or they want to move on without you,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “It was just one of those where you feel a little bit slighted and [Nguyen] showed it tonight.”
The Revolution (4-6-0, 12 pts, -1 GD) rose to fifth in the Eastern Conference, 10th overall and Vancouver (5-3-2, 17 pts, -1 GD) remain fourth in Western Conference and seventh overall.
Eric Hassli scored the go-ahead goal for Vancouver in the fifth minute, but Nguyen responded with the equalizer a minute later by blasting a shot into the lower left corner from eight yards out. Nguyen continued his assault by setting up Saer Sène for his team-leading fourth goal of the season and a 2-1 lead. Shalrie Joseph notched his first goal of the season in the 33rd minute, rounding out the game’s fourth first-half goal and improving New England’s lead to 3-1. Nguyen notched the second of his first two MLS goals in the second half with a spectacular long-distance rocket in the 72nd minute, assisted by Chris Tierney’s throw-in, for the 4-1 final result.
Despite the score, Vancouver held 57.9% of the possession throughout the game with the Revolution owning 42.1%.
Heaps still tweaking line-up
One week after utilizing a 4-5-1 formation in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, Heaps returned to a 4-4-2 alignment with Blake Brettschneider partnering with Sène up top, who previously has been paired with Fernando Cardenas and injured Pepe Moreno. Stephen McCarthy was recalled to the starting XI to partner with A.J. Soares in central defense.
Heaps has pressured his team to escalate the attack after giving up a goal, to take advantage of the other team’s emotional lack of focus, lost in the goal celebration.
“When you give something up, you’ve got to – it’s the cliché, the next minute to two minutes – if you can really press, the team is still tired, literally tired from still celebrating a goal, they all came up and celebrated – that’s when you have to take advantage and press a little bit,” said Heaps. “Maybe you get a corner, maybe you get a free kick.”
Hassli’s first goal must certainly have grated Nguyen, who responded with his brilliant goal within seconds.
“I wouldn’t say revenge,” said Nguyen. “I’m just happy we got the win. The way it ended up I couldn’t have dreamt it any better.”
Lee Nguyen’s route to MLS
The Revolution acquired midfielder Lee Nguyen, 25, through the MLS Waiver Draft on March 2, after Vancouver waived him. Nguyen originally signed a contract with MLS in December 2011 and Vancouver won a weighted lottery for his rights. Before coming to MLS, Nguyen played in the Vietnamese V-League, the first American to ever play in the Vietnamese Super League. In 2009, he played for Hoang Anh Gia and in 2010-11 he played for Becamex Binh Duong FC, scoring 14 goals in 29 league appearances overall. In the off-season between 2009 and 2010, he trained with Arsenal of the English Premier League.
After leaving college after his freshman year, Nguyen was signed by Dutch giant PSV Eindhoven. After splitting time between the first team and PSV’s reserves for two seasons, Nguyen moved to Randers FC of the Danish Superliga in January 2008, where he made 23 appearances in parts of two seasons.
Nguyen earned three caps with the senior U.S. National Team in 2007 and earned two caps with the U.S. U-20 squad at the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands.
The Revolution will play their second straight home match next weekend when they host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 19. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.
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New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
May 12, 2012 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
New England Revolution 4, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
VAN: Eric Hassli (Sebastien Le Toux, Davide Chiumiento) 5
NE: Lee Nguyen (unassisted) 6
NE: Saer Sène (Lee Nguyen) 24
NE: Shalrie Joseph (unassisted) 33
NE: Lee Nguyen (Chris Tierney) 72
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Kevin Alston, Benny Feilhaber, Clyde Simms, Shalrie Joseph ©, Lee Nguyen (Fernando Cardenas 79), Saer Sène (Diego Fagundez 72), Blake Brettschneider (Alec Purdie 83)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Darrius Barnes, John Lozano, Bjorn Runstrom
STATS: Shots 18, Shots on Target 7, Corner Kicks 0, Saves 4, Fouls 18, Offsides 3, Passes Completed (percentage) 358 (71.5%), Possession 42.1%
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Joe Cannon, Young-Pyo Lee, Jordan Harvey, Carlyle Mitchell, Alain Rochat ©, Gershon Koffie (Etienne Barbara 80), Davide Chiumiento, Omar Salgado (Darren Mattocks 62), Jun Marques Davidson (Floyd Franks 89), Sebastien Le Toux, Eric Hassli
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Martin Bonjour, Michael Nanchoff, Matt Watson
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Target 5, Corner Kicks 3, Saves 3, Fouls 16, Offsides 0, Passes Completed (percentage) 502 (74.9%), Possession 57.9%
VAN: Koffie (caution) 44
NE: Joseph (caution) 45+
VAN: Salgado (caution) 61
VAN: Mattocks (caution) 64
NE: McCarthy (caution) 83
VAN: Hassli (caution) 90
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Marco Arruda
Fourth Official: Geoff Gamble
Weather: Sunny and 75 degrees