Earlier today, members of the 2018 New England Revolution squad boarded planes and headed to Bradenton, Florida for the start of training camp. However, there was one notable absence on board Revolution Airlines – Flight 2018. Lee Nguyen, whose performance last year (11 goals / 15 assists) was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak 2017 campaign, has officially refused to report to camp.
In what’s now become an unnecessary distraction for a club needing to right the wayward ship, it’s abundantly clear that a quick resolution to the drama is needed.
What’s the Issue?
Two weeks ago, Sam Stejskal, a contributor for mlssoccer.com, reported that Nguyen asked the team for a trade at the conclusion of the disappointing 2017 season. Upon learning of the request, the team, known by many to play hardball during contract negotiations, refused to grant the star player’s wish. In their mind, it’s the duty of the player to uphold their signed agreement.
With the Revolution publicly stating their unwillingness to deal a key member of their club, both parties now find themselves in standoff today.
In speaking with reporters this week in Foxborough, Revolution General Manager, Mike Burns, went on record as emphatically stating that the club will not be trading Nguyen. Per noted soccer journalist, Paul Tenorio, the Revs are not even entertaining trade offers for the 2014 MVP finalist.
Speaking with mlssoccer.com, Burns said, “Lee didn’t report to preseason and he’s not honoring his contract…We’ll handle the matter internally, and we’ve already had discussions with MLS…We have zero tolerance for guys who don’t honor their contracts.”
Nguyen Breaks His Silence
Yesterday, Nguyen broke his silence regarding his decision to holdout.
In a conversation with ESPN FC, the midfielder stated that he had respectfully asked the club to trade him on three separate occasions prior to the start of training camp. He went on to say, “I’ve paid my dues and it gets harder and harder to watch so many players on the Revs and in MLS get rewarded year after year, despite not performing anywhere close to what I have done.”
Nguyen isn’t wrong. His performance since joining the Revolution six seasons ago has been consistently stellar. During his time with New England, Nguyen has scored 51 goals while dishing out 49 assists. When compared to players with similar statistics over the same period of time, it’s clear that Lee Nguyen is vastly underpaid.
In wrapping up his aforementioned conversation with ESPN FC, Nguyen said, “For the past six years, I’ve given everything to the Revs and done my best to help the club win. I appreciate my time in New England, but I just feel like I need a new challenge at this point in my career.”
It’s clear that both sides have drawn a line in the sand. As of this moment, it doesn’t appear that a resolution to this dramatic saga is forthcoming.
But are the Revs missing out on a golden opportunity to collect assets? Nguyen’s value will most likely never be higher than it is today. While Nguyen has been the face of Revolution soccer for six years, he clearly desires a change.
As for the soccer club? Well, the powers that be have to know that frustration is permeating throughout its fan base. It’s vital that the Friedel Era starts off on the right foot. Carrying an ugly contract dispute into the season would be disastrous.
So, Mr. Burns…You’re on the clock. Find a deal that helps improve the soccer club over the long-term and let a player who clearly wants a change a scenery see if the pitch grass truly is greener on the other side.