The Lee Nguyen news that broke earlier this week should be quite an eye-opener for the young winger. Nguyen, once a promising attacker who seemed to be oozing with national team potential, is clearly at a crossroads. It’s on him to show he’s got the stuff, or his days in MLS will die a quick and merciless death.
The skinny looks like this: Vancouver acquired Nguyen, 25, through a weighted lottery in December. He was in the Whitecaps training camp, playing along the outside spots, when I visited with the club in Arizona a month ago. Turns out, he didn’t stick around much longer than I did; Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie, weighing all those splendid options in attacking positions, waived the Dallas native. New England claimed Nguyen and he was on the practice field for new Revs boss Jay Heaps on Tuesday.
Kyle McCarthy’s piece from this evening at MLSSoccer.com says Nguyen has called this a “humbling experience.” Hopefully it can be a learning one, too.
Four things to know about Nguyen as he attempts to catch on at Gillette:
- First, you had better believe that Vancouver tried to make a trade in order to get something (anything, perhaps) in return. There’s only one reason they wouldn’t be able to: no one wanted to part with anything of value to acquire Nguyen.
- Second, this wasn’t his first failed fly-by in MLS. He spent some time training with FC Dallas two years ago, before the 2010 season. There was some interest at (then-named) Pizza Hut Park, but not apparently at the money Nguyen wanted. So he returned to Vietnam, where he was reportedly one of the country’s highest paid athletes. You know, bigger fish-smaller pond kind of thing.
- Third, when I saw him play in Arizona, it was clear he had all the technical qualities he would need. But MLS is a physical league, as we all know. I wondered if he would find himself pushed off the ball too often, if he could make the adjustment? A lot of his game was about running at defenders. In MLS, you can’t just run past them; they get to put a body on you, and it becomes a lot tougher path to goal.
- Lastly, you might be tempted to say that Nguyen got caught in a numbers game at Vancouver, where Rennie has a wealth of midfield and striking options. There’s surely some truth to that. But don’t forget this: Rennie mentioned when we spoke in February that Nguyen had an early edge because he already knew how to play the angles in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, which the new Whitecaps’ boss wants to play. That’s from Nguyen’s days at PSV Eindhoven, where he played under famed coach Guus Hiddink from 2006-2008.
So, if he couldn’t make it in Vancouver …
I spoke to Nguyen in Vancouver, too. And I talked to him years ago, around the time he played for the United States at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. He’s always been a pleasant enough person to be around (despite that ridiculously tone deaf stunt he pulled on Twitter a couple of weeks back.) I hope he understands: this MLS train doesn’t just keep chugging along the tracks no matter what. At some point, it’ll reach its last stop. It’s on Nguyen to say “when.”
Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.
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The FA announced in a press release Wednesday that Fulham owner Shahid Kahn had withdrawn his offer of $790 million to purchase Wembley Stadium. Kahn first became interested in buying the stadium in February 2017, when he and FA CEO Martin Glenn met at the Superbowl. What followed was an informal offer to the FA Board of Directors before a formal offer was made.
The offer has been valued at anywhere from nearly $800 million to nearly $1.2 billion. In a statement, Kahn said that his goal to purchase the stadium was to provide the FA with a large amount of capital which it could use to improve grassroots soccer around the country.
“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”
The FA council was set to vote on the sale next week.
Although it cost the FA and British government more than $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to renovate and rebuild Wembley Stadium, the arena hosted 33 events between July 2016 and June 2017 and in its latest published financial records, the FA recorded an after-tax profit of $21 million. So it seems that along with the sponsorships and broadcast deals, Wembley Stadium is a money maker, which makes it important for the FA to hold on to.
That being said, it’s hard to turn down a deal worth close to $1 billion, even if that’s a lump sum and they won’t receive further investments from stadium revenues in the future. In the future, maybe Kahn or another owner may make another offer, one that the FA council could accept.
The head of La Liga is considering taking extraordinary action to ensure that a planned match this year in the U.S. goes off as expected.
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According to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, La Liga president Javier Tebas is set to bring a lawsuit against the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and its chief, Luis Rubiales to compel the federation to approve Barcelona’s match against Girona on January 26, which has been scheduled to be moved to Miami, Fla.’s Hard Rock Stadium.
In a way, it makes sense that Tebas and the Spanish league is considering every possible avenue to ensure that their 15-year marketing rights agreement with Relevant Sports, including league matches played abroad, can move forward as expected. However, it was clear after the announcement in August that all parties involved – especially La Liga, had not thought this through. FIFA, the RFEF, local fans and the Spanish league’s player’s union have all opposed the news, and on Wednesday Real Madrid formally sent a letter of it’s disapproval in moving La Liga matches abroad.
Tebas and La Liga would prefer for this to be resolved legally sooner rather than later, so they can market the Barcelona match in Miami and begin negotiating with the other federations that need to approve. But there’s a decent chance that the other parties – FIFA, and U.S. Soccer – could fail to rubber stamp what would be a first-of-its-kind event. In any case, watch this space.
The U.S. Men’s National Team finished the October FIFA international slate with a somewhat demoralizing loss and an uplifting draw, if there is such a thing.
The young U.S. core continues to show flashes of great talent, but overall the team still seems to be stuttering along under caretaker manager Dave Sarachan, who just managed his 10th game and could likely finish out the calendar year as USMNT boss.
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Below is a look at the key takeaways from the USMNT’s October friendlies:
Arsene Wenger could be back to barking orders from the sideline once the calendar flips to 2019.
In an interview with German publication BILD, Wenger admitted that he’s received job offers all over the world and aims to return in January. Wenger hinted as well at his future, stating he was open to either international or club management.
Wenger has been without a job since parting ways with Arsenal at the end of last season, a second successive in which the club finished outside the top four.
Even with his disappointing end to life at Arsenal, it’s clear Wenger is still passionate and ready to coach again in the future. Come January, there will likely be a few Premier League openings as well as opportunities in other leagues (AC Milan? Bayern Munich? Real Madrid?). However, most of the domestic options would see Wenger take over a team likely in a relegation battle, something Wenger doesn’t really have experience with. In addition, outside of Mexico and U.S. Soccer’s ongoing coaching search, it’s unlikrly there will be a major national team opening come January.
Wenger previously said would make up his mind about his future in September, but since missing his deadline he’s continued to move the date back. Perhaps a year away will fully rejuvenate the wise manager.