We are seven weeks into the 2018 Major League Soccer season and New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen has yet to make an appearance.
The U.S. international had reportedly hoped to seek a trade away from New England ahead of the start of this current season, but is under contract through 2018 with options for 2019 and 2020.
New coach Brad Friedel has yet to name Nguyen in any of his 18-man squads, after the midfielder showed up three weeks late to preseason. New England are sitting at 3-2-1 through six matches this season.
“I have no issue with Lee,” Friedel said, according to MLSSoccer.com. “We haven’t had one personal back and forth with each other at all. I haven’t punished a player here once. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting a player’s fitness up and playing committed players.”
Diego Fagundez has played at the No. 10 position for New England in Nguyen’s absence and Friedel feels that is where the attention should lie between the two.
“Diego Fagundez, who is the best No. 10 at the club right now, he came in, works really hard every single day, he deserves your stories,” Friedel said. “Right there, Diego Fagundez, not focusing on someone else. Diego Fagundez, I’m going to say it again, is the one who deserves your stories, not someone else.”
Nguyen rallied 11 goals and 15 assists last season for the Revs, but even considered playing outside of MLS in hopes for a new start to his career. Nguyen’s 100 goals and assists are the sixth-most in MLS since 2012, but the midfielder will continue to sit and wait for Friedel to give him his chance.
“As a soccer player, as an athlete, you always have to keep an open mind,” Nguyen said. “But at the same time, I’m here, I have a contract for this year and possibly for two more. Whatever happens, I’m open-minded to wherever the soccer journey leads me.”