The Revolution Can Survive Without Lee Nguyen
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
New England Revolution fans were sent into a complete meltdown Thursday after a report surfaced that star playmaker Lee Nguyen requested a trade early on in the offseason.
The 31-year-old requested the trade before the club had hired new manager Brad Friedel, but stated he desired to take his career elsewhere, according to a report from mlssoccer.com.
Nguyen entered the offseason coming off of one of his best seasons with the club, scoring 11 goals and assisting 15 in 31 games with New England. He was also linked with a move back to Vietnam over the summer, the country where he played prior to joining the Revolution. It is unknown whether the hiring of Friedel changed his mind on the trade request.
While it is understandable that Nguyen may want a change of scenery, after carrying a struggling Revolution team for the last two seasons, it would be hard to lose Nguyen. With all the positive change going on within the club, it would be an unfortunate time to lose such a key player.
However, if the Revolution were to lose Nguyen, it would not be the end of the world. Here are some reasons why moving on from Nguyen would not cripple the Revolution.
Nguyen has been with the Revolution for nearly six seasons now, scoring 51 goals in just under 200 MLS appearances with the club. His skill has been unmatched for years in New England, even finishing as a finalist for MLS MVP in 2014. However, at 31-years-old, his time with the Revolution is naturally coming to its conclusion.
While he still has two more years left on his contract, the Revolution are trying to get younger this offseason, which can be seen through their signings and hirings. After hiring a new Director of Scouting, the signing 17-year-old Issac Angking, 26-year-old Gabriel Somi, and 24-year-old Wilfried Zahibo, there is a clear focus on youth at the club going forward.
At 31-years-old, Nguyen clearly does not fit the trend the team is undergoing this offseason. If Kelyn Rowe can stay healthy, the 26-year-old would prove to be a much younger playmaker to lead the Revolution.
If the Revolution were to part ways with Nguyen, they would have a large hole in their attack, and they would have big shoes to fill. Fortunately, they won’t have to break the bank to find a competent playmaker; They already have that in Rowe.
Rowe joined the club at the same time as Nguyen and has been in his shadow in terms of being the leading playmaker in the team. In 2017, Rowe posted one goal and seven assists in only 23 games, which is admittedly not as good as Nguyen. Rowe did miss significant time due to an injury and also found himself playing all over the field instead of in the center, which is his natural home.
If given the chance, Rowe would certainly excel as the lead playmaker for the club. Rowe’s most impactful performances came from games in which he played in his more natural central role. While he has never cracked 10 assists in a single season, if he got the chance to settle down in an attacking role instead of playing as a utility man, he could finally eclipse the 10 assists mark.
There is no doubting that Rowe is quality player, and despite his injury, last year was a breakout year for the 26-year-old. Over the summer of 2017, Rowe broke into the USMNT ranks for the first time, scoring one goal and earning one assist in three games with the national team.
While losing Nguyen would be tough, the Revolution already have the necessary pieces to replace him.
Whether if it is by trade or by transfer, the return for letting go of Nguyen would be solid.
Despite his age, Nguyen is still a capable playmaker and midfielder, who has something special that can change a game. If he does depart via trade, the return for him would be substantial, whether it’s in players, picks, or cash.
One team that has been mentioned in the trade rumors is the Chicago Fire, who reportedly reached out to the Revolution about a trade for Nguyen early in the offseason. Minnesota United is also interested in acquiring Nguyen’s services as well, per multiple reports. Despite this interest, it has been reported that the Revolution are reluctant to move on from Nguyen, regardless of trade or transfer.
One possible trade that the Revolution could make if the elected to move the midfielder would be sending him to FC Dallas in exchange for central defender Matt Hedges.
While this deal may be a bit of a pipe dream, it would be a great deal for the Revolution. Hedges is 27-years-old, which means he would fit into the Revolution’s new youthful direction and is considered to be one of the best central defenders in the MLS.
Hedges won Defender of the Year in 2016 and is known for his great defending and solid pace. At 6-foot-4, he would be a towering presence in the backline and would also help patch up the leaky defense that the club had last year.
This would be a tough deal to complete, and would probably require the Revolution sending a decent chunk of allocation money and/or draft picks to Dallas, but if they have the option, they should definitely pull the trigger.
Ideally, the Revolution won’t have to move on from Nguyen. He’s a tremendous player for the club and is arguably the best player in the squad. As the Friedel era begins, it would be great to have a figure like Nguyen at the club. But if he does want to go and the Revolution do decide to move on from him, the club will be able to survive in a post Nguyen-era.
What do you think? Should the Revolution move on from one of their franchise players? Or should they try to keep him around for the Friedel era? Let us know down below!