Following up on last year’s accomplishments is means more than personal success for Lee Nguyen – he’s keeping the big picture in mind, too.
Sure, the 18-goal breakout season that he enjoyed with the New England Revolution last year was one to savor and one to build on, but the club’s run to the MLS Cup final, where they came up just short of winning their first title ever, is where the real building blocks lie.
“My goal is to help this team and try to get back to the finals,” Nguyen told MLSsoccer.com. “Winning is the main thing. We’ve got to get off on the right track. Hopefully we can be more consistent this year.”
Of course the jump-off point from last season to the current one is their loss against the LA Galaxy in the final, which came just three short months ago. The bitter taste aside, advancing that far showed New England what they were capable of and what it meant to get to that point in a season.
And it left them hungry for more.
“It’s motivation,” Nguyen said. “We saw what it’s like to be on that stage. We want to be back there.”
READ: 10 minutes with Lee Nguyen
Playing that late into the season also left little time to unwind and refresh, especially for Nguyen.
He stayed in Los Angeles after the postseason finale, spending time with a friend, then traveled home for Christmas to be with his family, then back west to join the US national team camp in January.
“It’s been a short turn around, really,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t have much time off before January camp with the US team. I maybe had two weeks off. It’s nice and it’s not. Obviously, I wanted to enjoy a little vacation, but I can’t complain. I’m happy being able to do what I love and being able to represent my country.”
Following his time with the national team, Nguyen rejoined the Revs in Arizona for the tail end of their spring training.
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As a precaution, the coaching staff allowed him a bit of a breather after his exhausting year-plus, which also allowed more time for a nagging groin injury to sure up a bit more before the regular season begins Sunday at the Seattle Sounders (9:30 pm ET; Fox Sports 1).
Although Nguyen did not appear in any preseason games for New England, the comfort level with his teammates – which he credited for his success last year – should make for an seamless transition back into action. The Revs’ deep midfield returns intact, as do the expectations to return to that big stage.
“We picked up where we left off,” Nguyen said. “I’m biased, but I’ll take our midfield over any midfield in the league right now. That’s how I feel, honestly. I love the guys that I’m playing along with. Our expectations were the same last year. We knew we could get to the MLS Cup. We always had that belief. With the run we did last year, it’s only magnified.”