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Nguyen set for Whitecaps test

Posted by Julian Cardillo  June 14, 2013 10:13 PM

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(photo credit: Italo Alexander Photography)

When the Vancouver Whitecaps cut Lee Nguyen last Spring, they probably didn't expect him to score against them when they visited the Revolution. But on May 12 last year, exactly that happened as Nguyen scored a brace to lead the Revolution over Vancouver, 4-1, at Gillette Stadium.

His first goal tied the game up after the Whitecaps opened the scoring early in the first half. His second was the icing on the cake, a volley from outside the penalty area that curled inside the net at the far post, an eventual candidate for last year's MLS Goal of the Year.

“Any game I play, I’m always trying to prove myself,” said Nguyen, who was dropped by the Whitecaps last year just 79 days after they acquired him via weighted lottery. “There might be that little extra edge going into Vancouver. We’ll see.”

The Revolution play at Vancouver on Saturday night at BCEC Place. It's their first time ever playing in the stadium as well as Nguyen's first time in Vancouver since he was let go.

Though he may have originally planned to make a name for himself in Vancouver, Nguyen has done a solid job establishing himself with the Revolution. He's a key part of Head Coach Jay Heaps' four-man midfield and arguably the team's most creative offensive player. In terms of output, Nguyen has had a slow start to the season, contributing just two goals and one assist. But his work in midfield alongside Kelyn Rowe, Juan Toja, and Scott Caldwell is a big reason why the Revolution enter Wednesday's match on a five-game unbeaten run.

"We just have to continue playing our game," explained Nguyen of the Revolution's recent positive streak. "it's been working these past couple of games. We just have to be confidence, go in there and play our game at their place. It'll be difficult, but we have to go do it."

Vancouver are unbeaten at home this season despite their 4-5-4 overall record. Similar to the Revolution, the Whitecaps are also a handful of points outside the fifth and final playoff spot in their conference. That means that they're just as hungry for a victory as the Revolution.

Despite letting go of Nguyen's abundant talent last year, the Whitecaps have other offensive weapons. Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo leads the team with five goals, and runs at opposing defenders with horse-like pace. Scottish forward Kenny Miller has contributed three goals alongside Camilo this year, while Nigel Reo-Coker, the English Premier League veteran signed by Vancouver this off-season, has been the engine in midfield.

Nguyen and the Revolution are entering this game with confidence, which will be key if they're going to stop Vancouver. Winning the midfield battle and limiting the service between Reo-Coker and the forwards should be part of New England's strategy.

"We see what Vancouver are good at, what they're strengths are and how we can minimize those," explained Heaps on the Revolution's webiste.

"They're an excellent team. They do a lot of good things. They'll punish you if you make a mistake. They take advantage of mistakes. They're good in possession, they've got a lot of experience. They're a team that's got a lot of the pieces."

While the Revolution have momentum in the lead-up to this game, getting either a tie or win is important since they have a bye-week next week. A loss against Vancouver and more time off could dissolve the positive mentality the Revolution have been playing with through June.

"It would be a nice thing to go into the break, relaxing, get our bodies recovering," said Nguyen of the upcoming week off. "Mentally [we want to know] that we're in a good position."

The US play against Honduras in their sixth World Cup qualifier next Tuesday. Revolution forward Jerry Bengston was sent back to Boston by Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez after the two reportedly had a falling out following Bengston being benched for Honduras' last qualifier against Jamaica. The Revolution said Bengston trained with the team upon his return in a statement, though they did no comment on whether or not he made the trip to Vancouver...Bengston has been in a scoring drought, netting just one goal in 11 appearances this season...Bengston has been on the bench while Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, and Saer Sene have all earned starts in his place...The US women's national team play South Korea at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night at 7 PM...Boston Celtics Minority owner James Palotta-owned AS Roma named Frenchman Rudy Garcia their new coach on Thursday...The Boston Breakers will take on Sky Blue FC at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville , Mass on Sunday night at 6:30 PM.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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