Lee Nguyen’s performance was too impressive to patronize it as mere revenge. Yes, there was something extra in Saturday’s match for the 25-year-old Texan, Nguyen having been cut by Vancouver in preseason. And if Nguyen had scored a one-off, game-winner, redemption would probably be the right angle.
But Nguyen’s performance was so much more than him getting back at a team that cut him loose. This was a Player of the Week-type performance from a man who came into the game with zero Major League Soccer goals. It was also the type of outing we expected when Nguyen was earning his only national team caps as a 20-year-old.
Back in 2007, Nguyen – then with Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven – was a 20-year-old prospect who got a prolonged look with the U.S. national team. He debuted against China ahead of Copa America appearances against Paraguay and Colombia.
Hope were understandably high, though in the five years that have followed, Nguyen has been unable to live up to that promise. He moved from the Netherlands to Denmark ahead of two seasons in Vietnam. With a lack of stability in his club-life, Nguyen failed to get a recall from Bob Bradley.
Against Vancouver, however, Nguyen embodied all the hopes many still hold for him, though his first goal was more opportunism than craft:
His second contribution was a big one, creating what would ultimately be the winning goal for Saer Sene:
The final one is pure Goal of the Week candidate:
I’m usually one of the cynics in these situations, but for one night, I’m riding with the dreamers. For somebody who’d only played nine MLS matches, this could be a breakout performance. Nguyen’s past certainly hints it could be.
Is it likely to be? Experience tell us no, but let’s take one day to dream, shall we?