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SBI MLS Most Valuable Player: Lee Nguyen

Lee Nguyen SBI MLS MVP (USA TODAY Sports)

Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports


If the 2014 MLS season has shown anything, it’s that Lee Nguyen is finally realizing his potential.

From his playmaking position behind the center forward, Nguyen became a household name in MLS circles with 18 goals and five assists in the regular season and another two goals and three assists so far in the playoffs. The New England Revolution have made it to MLS Cup for the first time in seven years, largely thanks to the play of Nguyen, who scored the most goals by a midfielder and an American in the league this season.

The 28-year-old Texan even earned a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team and made his return off the bench in the 2-1 loss to Colombia at Craven Cottage in London in November.

Nguyen edged out Robbie Keane for the honor, garnering two-thirds of the first-place votes, with Keane picking up the rest.

Here is a rundown of the other candidates for the SBI MLS MVP Award:


After an injury plagued 2013 season, Robbie Keane rebounded and played in nearly every match so far this year for the Galaxy, and it showed in the team’s form.

Even at 34, Keane is still one of the best players in the league, scoring 19 goals and adding 14 assists while forming a deadly partnership with Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes this season. The Galaxy scored the most goals in the league this season and Keane is a huge reason why.


In his second season in the league, Obafemi Martins showed that he’s more than capable of filling up the stat sheet on a regular basis.

Combining with Clint Dempsey up front, Martins finished 2014 with 17 goals and 13 assists, the best mark on the Sounders and the second best goals plus assist total in the league behind Keane.


As Thierry Henry aged, his game evolved, something that became plain and clear this season.

Transitioning from a pure forward to more of a playmaking role, Henry became the key provider for the Red Bulls and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Henry finished his final season with the Red Bulls with 10 goals and 14 assists, the most assists he’s had in his MLS career and fourth-highest in the league this season.


Although he was snubbed from the top three of both the SBI and MLS MVP ballots, Bradley Wright-Phillips deserves plenty of recognition.

After struggling to adjust to life with the Red Bulls last fall, Wright-Phillips’ drive and determination helped make him a regular starter, and he finished the season tied for the MLS record for goals in a season at 27 goals. Wright-Phillips also chipped in two assists.


What did you think of our selection? Which player stood out to you as MVP in 2014?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Very tough choice this year. I agree. Nyguyen made that team click. For those that are saying Jones had to get there before they were one of the best…so what ? Seattle doesnt have Dempsey, Yedlin, Evans ? LA doesnt have Omar and LD ?

    I get the arguement for Others, very good choises. But the counter of LN needed Jones makes no sense.

    • Whatever. When JJ was in the game, they won, by and large.

      I don’t care about JJ per se, neither do I care about the Revs or Henry or NYRB. I’m just calling it like I see it. Before Jones, the Revs were an okay team. But I don’t think you’d be talking about how great Lee Nguyen is at this point in the season if the team had stood pat and not brought Jones in. You feel free to disagree if you want, but their record without Jones speaks loud and clear to me.

  2. You guys are kidding, right?

    The Revolution were 9-3-12 in games played without Jermaine Jones this season. I understand he hasn’t been in MLS long enough for a full season award, but c’mon. He had a good season, but Nguyen can’t truly be considered the MVP of his own club, despite the number of goals he bagged.

    This should’ve gone to Titi, hands down. Where do you think NYRB would’ve ended up without him cajoling them at every opportunity? Mired in the basement, that’s where.

    • Anytime your team is 14W, 2D, and 1L in games in which you scored or assisted, you can probably be considered MVP of your own club. Anytime you have 9 game winning goals, you can probably be considered MVP of your own club. And anytime you set the league record for goals by a midfielder– well yeah, you might just be the MVP of your own club.

      Jermaine Jones is the reason the Revs are a Finals team. Nguyen is the reason they matter at all.

      • These are the stats the article needed. Thanks for info Cravin’. Of course I’d be curious about the same numbers for Keane, Donovan, Martins, W-P, Demps

      • Then I’ll say it to you like this:

        Without Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen isn’t in the position to be 14-2-1 when scoring or assisting.
        Without Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen isn’t in the position to score 9 game winning goals over the course of a season.
        Without Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen is playing golf after being first rounded.

        Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones, in tandem, have been a game changer for the Revs, no doubt about it. But to name Lee Nguyen MVP is a stretch, sorry. Again, I realize that Jermaine Jones just got in town and he probably doesn’t qualify for a full season award, and you could even debate whether or not he’d actually qualify for MVP if he’d been around. But to say the Revs have achieved everything they have without analyzing, specifically, Jones’ contributions is to do him a great disservice. And that is the hallmark of an MVP: not the sum of your goals and assists, nor your win/loss record for HALF of the games your team played over the course of the season (which was the reason I felt Jones wouldn’t qualify in the first place).

        The stat you graciously provided covers 17 games. That means the Revs went 3-2-12 when he didn’t score or assist. How many of those games did he play in? Of those games that he did play, did he just disappear? Couldn’t put the team on his back? Those aren’t questions you have to ask of an MVP.

  3. A solid choice. I was a “late convert” on Nguyen, but he has won me over even if he was not my personal choice. In a weird way, his ability to influence big games and big moments reminds me of DeRosario during his peak. Guy always finds a way to make a nuisance of himself.

  4. Louis, 5 assists from a midfielder impresses you?

    As measured in goals and assists, any one of this article’s finalists — as well as Donovan, Dempsey and Valeri — had more impact than Nguyen, especially when one considers how many minutes each played, or in Valeri’s case, how much weaker his team was.

  5. Keane is probably my choice as well, although I gotta say, Donovan leading the league in assists and Zardes’ breakout year surely helped Keane’s numbers this year.

    Gotta give a special shout to Dempsey as well. His numbers (15 goals, 10 assists) aren’t as high as some of the candidates, but he put them up in far fewer minutes than any of them, including about 600 minutes fewer than Nguyen (who played more minutes than any of the finalists mentioned in this article).

  6. Robbie Keane,….19 goals and 14 assists,…how is he not MVP? LA lost out on the Supporters Shield on the last day of the season and is in the MLS Cup???

    I am so happy for Lee Nguyen and the season he had,….but don’t understand this one.

    As an aside,…if SBI were to look at the past three seasons, Keane has averaged approx 17 goals and 11 assists per season,…awesome. Definitely setting the bar pretty high for future DPs.

    • Because LeeN did it as a midfielder. Robbie is a forward, that is his job to score. LeeN also had an impressive assist record for this year.

      • 5 assists as a number 10? Not good enough. The flip side of your argument is that Keane had almost 3X the number of assists as a forward than Lee Nguyen did,….it’s not even close. Sorry,…but your argument doesn’t hold water.

    • Keane would have been my choice, as well… but I think goals + assists is something of an inadequate standard in comparing the two players and their roles within their respective teams. Nguyen is almost certainly the most effective two-way player amongst those in the conversation, and his importance to his team is almost impossible to overstate. While Keane’s offensive production has made the Galaxy elite, take Nguyen away from the Revs and you probably don’t even have a playoff team.

      Certainly agree about Keane’s aggregate production. He may be the “gold standard” for DP’s. An excellent acquisition– hopefully LAG acquire the necessary pieces to keep him happy and productive for another year at least.

  7. Dempsey and Valeri had more goals + assists as well.

    If one considers the relative strength of teams each of these players had supporting them, Valeri’s performance was certainly worthy of mention, if not winning outright.

  8. Well deserved? Nguyen has had an excellent season; however, every one of those guys have more goals + assists than he does, and so does Donovan, who you don’t even mention.

    As no other criteria are mentioned, what is the basis for awarding him MVP?

      • Grunt said “more goals PLUS assists”. Donovan had 29, Nguyen had 23. Dempsey also had more than Nguyen, as did Valeri, both were also not mentioned. Not saying goals + assists should be the deciding factor but it’s hard to say it’s not a significant indicator of a player’s value. I believe Nguyen had quite a few game winning goals for the Revs so maybe that has something to do with it. Otherwise I think this vote for Nguyen is more about thinking he deserves some recognition.

    • I think TEN of Nguyen’s 18 regular season goals were winners. And I think most of those came during the end of the season streak after JJ joined the NER.

      The award is for MOST valuable. It’s not for best player necessarily. Take BRP for example, NYRB almost won the playoff series w/o him in game 2. They stepped up their game and were unlucky not to put it away when up 2-1 but Cahill had a miss much easier than Wondo’s shank against Belgium. On NYRB, it seemed obvious that TH is more important to their attack than Phillips. He made all the players better.

      Martins had a good season, but Seattle disappeared in the playoffs again. Keane had a very good year on a very good team, but I think LN stepped up his game and turned the Revs from a middling playoff team to a serious contender for MLS Cup.

      I’ve been going to NER games since their opener against DCU in’96. This is perhaps the most talented team they’ve ever had and the reason why is because of Nguyen.

  9. Well-deserved. Every time he touches the ball, there is excitement and purpose. Look forward to seeing him represent USA for the next 4 years.


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