Lee Nguyen was the breakout player of 2014 (apologies to Dom Dwyer), an MVP finalist who by some metrics had a stronger claim on the trophy than eventual winner Robbie Keane. Nguyen carried New England’s attack for most of the year, scoring 18 goals and adding five assists.
That "five assists" is not a wildly impressive number, but given the finishing problems the rest of the Revs’ attackers had last season, it’s not surprising that Nguyen’s assist total was so low. "Assists" are a noisy stat because there are so many variables – the big one, obviously, being the quality of the guy who’s supposed to be doing the finishing.
Until Charlie Davies caught fire late in the regular season and into the playoffs, New England’s center forwards were pretty poor at putting the ball into the net. The same could not be said of Keane’s teammates, or Obafemi Marins’, or Thierry Henry’s, or any of the other elite attacking players of last year.
A better metric of Nguyen’s creative prowess is "chances created from open play," a stat that Opta tracks. Last season he was tied for fourth in the league with 62, behind only Landon Donovan (84), Javier Morales (73) and Diego Valeri (63). This season Nguyen is tied for seventh on the Revs, having created only two open play chances all season. Just as worrying is the fact that his passing accuracy in the final third has plummeted from over 70 percent to just under 64 percent.
This year so far, Nguyen has only created 2 open chances in 5 games. It’s fair to say that Nguyen is in a slump.
Here’s the happy part for New England: They play at the Philadelphia Union on Sunday evening (5 pm ET; ESPN2). Philly aren’t as bad as their record indicates, but even when they win, they concede a ton of possession in their own third and give up a chances.