Lee Nguyen has been playing some of the best soccer of any central midfielder in the United States player pool. He only has three caps to his name, from his time at PSV Eindhoven after leaving Indiana following his Big Ten Freshman of the Year season.
Last week, Nguyen scored two goals in the New England Revolution’s 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, followed by an assist in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Sunday. The Revs are on a four-game winning streak, paced by at least one goal or assist from Nguyen in each match.
His biggest asset is his soccer IQ, particularly in the way he finds space between opposing defensive and midfield lines. His first goal against Sporting KC came from holding his run and finding space on top of a retreating back line. The second was on a similar run, holding in space rather than running forward blindly, followed by a blistering finish.
Nguyen isn’t always the most obvious or flashiest player on the field — although he does have that in his arsenal when necessary — but he always seems to be in the best position and able to distribute smartly, such as on his almost-blind cross for Diego Fagúndez’s goal against the Fire.
Jermaine Jones has been taking the headlines recently for the way he joined New England and what he’s supposed to provide the team, but Nguyen has been carrying the team. He’s joined by 10 others on the Team of the Week:
Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 26
• Joe Bendik (Toronto FC): Were it not for Bendik in goal, Toronto’s two losses to Philadelphia would likely have been much worse. He made six saves in the 1-0 loss on Wednesday, followed by four more saves in the 2-0 loss on Saturday.
• Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew): Parkhurst completed 91 percent of his passes and anchored the Columbus defense in a 3-0 win over Chivas. On a day dominated by the Crew attack, Parkhurst provided the cover for Columbus’ attackers.
• Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union): Since essentially swapping positions with Amobi Okugo in the Union midfield, Edu has looked increasingly comfortable as a center back. He was the most important part of the Philadelphia back line, recovering loose balls and clearing balls in the box.
• Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps): Besides his strong play defensively, Waston had two of the Whitecaps’ best scoring opportunities, but he just couldn’t get two headers in the opposing penalty area on target. His 16 clearances paved the way for Vancouver to cling onto a point against high-flying D.C. United.
• Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): Valeri assisted all three Portland goals in a wild 3-3 draw with San Jose. He was all over the place for the Timbers attack, also putting five shots on target and creating a whopping 12 goalscoring opportunities.
• Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): Donovan scored two goals, both penalties, and added two assists in the Galaxy’s 6-0 win over Colorado. Overall, he created seven goalscoring opportunities.
• Andy Rose (Seattle Sounders): In a rare start for Seattle – just his third of 2014 – with Gonzalo Pineda getting some rest, Rose scored twice in the first half in a 4-2 win over Chivas. Rose also completed 89 percent of his passes and looked as sharp as many players who play every week.
• Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): After a two-goal performance against Kansas City, Nguyen assisted the tying goal against Chicago. He’s working on a four-game point streak, matching the Revolution’s winning streak.
• Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders): Evans assisted on three of Seattle’s four goals against Chivas. He created four goalscoring opportunities from the right wing.
• Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders): Martins scored twice in the first 16 minutes of the Sounders’ win. He also created three shots on target and completed 82 percent of his passes, dropping deep into midfield to combine with players pushing forward.
• Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): Wondolowski scored twice and assisted the third goal in San Jose’s wild draw with the Timbers. He poached the first goal on a rebound, following up with a free header for the second.