MLS New England Revolution

Lee Nguyen returns to Foxborough as Revolution trade fourth round pick, up to $50K for his services

The Prodigal Son has returned.

With a decided lack of options to fill the No. 10 role with Carles Gil on the shelf with an injury, the Revolution have gone out and re-acquired midfielder Lee Nguyen from Inter Miami in exchange for New England’s fourth-round selection in next January’s SuperDraft as well as the potential of up to $50,000 in General Allocation Money if certain performance-related standards are met.

The Boston Globe had news of the trade earlier Tuesday.

Nguyen, who will turn 34 in a month, played six years in New England and was a key member of the Revs’ last trip to the MLS Cup Final six years ago. He scored 51 goals and had 49 assists during his time in Foxborough, and since then added three additional goals and nine assists, mainly with Los Angeles Football Club — who acquired Nguyen from the Revolution in the 2018 Primary Transfer Window.

His divorce from the Revolution was the main story line of the first few months of the 2018 season. He had requested a transfer after Brad Friedel was named coach of the Revolution in November 2017, one that was not initially granted. He was not in Foxborough for the start of training camp, but arrived three and a half weeks late.

After not making the match day roster for Friedel during the first six matches, questions were raised about Nguyen’s status by none other than club legend Taylor Twellman on an ESPN broadcast.

Three weeks later, LAFC sent the Revolution $700,000 in allocation money in order to free him.

LAFC left Nguyen unprotected ahead of last November’s expansion draft, which saw Inter Miami select him in the same draft that Nashville selected his former short-term teammate Jalil Anibaba.

Nguyen made five run-out appearances with Miami prior to his return to Route 1.

WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW

First, wow. I never thought that Nguyen would return to the Revolution, especially following his exit. Of course, that was under an old coach and an old general manager who are no longer here.

Second, it’s a massive change of thought processes regarding him, don’t you think? Friedel had once said that if he had to remove Diego Fagundez from the game, who had replaced Nguyen as the No. 10 in that 2018 season, he would have replaced him with former Homegrown signing Zachary Herivaux instead of Nguyen. It’s a complete 180-degree turn from that mindset, and given what I wrote following Sunday’s match about Bruce Arena’s reluctance to go to Fagundez in a pinch at the No. 10, pretty timely.

Third, and pretty importantly, we have to wonder what Nguyen has in the tank right now. He’s got a lot of miles on the legs at 33 years of age, creeping in on 34. And when you’ve only played 92 minutes this season in five appearances, the hope is that you’ll be hungry enough to want to perform and, with this second chance, reclaim the position for what we expect is the short term, especially if Gil returns to the club next year. I’ll also raise this point: At that age, does Arena go with a No. 10 by committee set-up for what remains of 2020, with Nguyen and newcomer Tommy McNamara exchanging the roles mid-match? Or is Nguyen 90 minutes fit and McNamara can play the No. 6 or the No. 8 alongside Matt Polster?

And fourth, what an absolute bargain! Having only to give up a fourth-round SuperDraft selection — which player will Inter use it on and subsequently send to Fort Lauderdale? — and up to $50,000 is a small price to pay for a player who could potentially bring large dividends to the Revolution.

Which, when one thinks about it, sounds very familiar with another player who has recently come to Foxborough to fill a need. Cam Newton came to the Patriots to replace Tom Brady, signed a veteran’s minimum deal, and from all indications has seemed to embrace the Patriot Way.

One can see the parallels here: Simply put, Nguyen is here to fill a role on this Revolution side, given the club’s lack of creativity and the revolving door at the No. 10 in recent weeks.

If he is successful and gets Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa into position to score with service, the club will be successful. If he can’t, it may be back to the drawing board.