NE Revolution: A potential Lee Nguyen trade and its impact on MLS

FOXBORO, MA - MARCH 12: Marcelo Sarvas
FOXBORO, MA - MARCH 12: Marcelo Sarvas /

The New England Revolution midfielder has expressed a desire to move away from Foxborough, meaning a major change could be coming for several MLS clubs.

M…V…Lee! M…V…Lee!

Have those familiar chants reverberated through Gillette Stadium for a final time? Reports throughout the offseason have indicated New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen’s desire to be traded away from Foxborough.

In 191 games with the Revs, Nguyen has scored 51 goals and added 49 assists. He was prolific penalty taker and a persuasive playmaker in his six seasons with New England. However, New England has missed the playoffs the past two seasons while the team has gone from title contender to battling for a playoff spot.

Nguyen’s motivation to leave is still unclear, though it appears he just wants a change of scenery. According to writer Sam Stejskal, Chicago is among the interested parties that have inquired about a move for Nguyen.

What type of impact would the move of such a player have on the Revolution and the rest of MLS?

A New England Revolution

Nguyen has been at the center of New England’s scheme for the past four seasons. A denizen in central midfield, Nguyen served as the anchor for the New England attack. His presence has helped the development of Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe into top-tier players. The latter even received his first senior international call-up for the United States last season.

With Nguyen out, Rowe could seamlessly slot into the central attacking midfielder role for the Revs. Fagundez is better on the left side, but could also play a central role if needed.

In order to replace the flare Nguyen played with, New England would need to add a player who can match that level of intensity and drive. Whether they acquire that piece via trade, SuperDraft pick, or a Designated Player signing, they’ll need to add one more piece in midfield.

New Dimension elsewhere

Wherever Lee Nguyen ends up, that club will need to adapt to a whole new dimension of offense. Nguyen’s style of play is best exuded when he is made the focal point of an attack.

In Chicago, for example, the addition of Nguyen could potentially propel that team over the top, though the club might have to change up its primary formation. Nguyen and Bastian Schweinsteiger would be the perfect center pair in a 4-4-2 diamond formation. It would allow Nguyen to not have to worry as much about defending as he would in New England.

Whatever team does end up landing Nguyen would need to have a solidified central defensive midfielder. At times last season, the CDM position in New England was patched over with several options. Injuries devastated the Revs last season and made it difficult for one solid lineup to be stapled down.

A Nguyen-less Revolution team will also cause a bit of stir for New England opponents. For so long, the Revs have really run their entire gameplan through Nguyen, with little success in recent years. A change of pace could actually add some versatility and flexibility for New England to experiment with new tactics. One that was probably on the way already with a new head coach in Brad Friedel.

With a whole new gameplan in place, Revs’ opponents might even have a tough time keying in on which areas of the field to plug, giving the Revs an edge and leaving opponents in doubt.

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Does Nguyen leave?

By all accounts, it seems that Nguyen has grown unhappy in New England. But with less than two weeks remaining until camp opens up, a trade, if it were to happen, would be imminent.

Once Nguyen enters Revs camp, it’s likely he will be staying put for at least another season. The midfielder is under a guaranteed contract for 2018 with a club option for 2019 and 2020.

It will be interesting, however, if Nguyen stays to see how he fits into Coach Brad Friedel’s new tactics.