Lee Nguyen Training 5.22.20

Lee Nguyen: “It’s very much like a family here”

Inter Miami midfielder Lee Nguyen joined MLS host Stephen Keel on Instagram Live today to answer questions from both Keel himself and inquisitive fans. The MLS veteran gave updates on what he’s been doing recently, his latte art, what it’s been like to return to training and a number of lighthearted personal topics.

Q: How is everything with you and your family?

A: Everyone is safe and healthy and all good. Crazy times, but we’re all grateful our family and friends are all safe right now. 

Q: Are you becoming a latte artist?

A: “I’m trying, man. I just picked up the hobby. I’ve been making cappuccinos for the past two years, but I decided to add a little twist to it now and try to make it fun while I make my morning coffee.” 

Q: On creating a TikTok account (@leenguyen_24): 

A: “I just wanted to see what this thing was about and just kind of got into it. My friend said ‘once you start you’re going to be addicted because you’re going to be on it forever scrolling through videos.’ I think it’s a cool thing that I’ll continue to do, especially with my teammates. I’ll get them in on it too and I think it will be fun.

Q: Do you have a favorite jersey you’ve traded for in your collection?

A: Probably Thierry Henry’s jersey. I remember watching him when he was at Arsenal tearing it up and thinking ‘this guy is unreal.’ I got a chance to play against him a couple of times on the pitch and was just lucky and fortunate enough that he wanted to trade jerseys with me. 

Q: On what it’s like to return to training:

A: It’s wild. It’s almost like the offseason before preseason. Even so it’s tough because you’re trying to get fit, to get sharp during this time but you can’t train with anybody. You can only do individual drills and there’s only so much you can do that’s tailored around yourself. It’s different. I joke about it, but it feels like back in the day when I was training with my dad one on one growing up. You’re doing stuff to specialize your own skill set, but then on top of that they try to incorporate fitness. It’s a lot of training with the ball by yourself but also a lot more fitness than you’re used to because it’s all you can do.

Q: Does it feel good to be back out there?

A: The alternative was running out on the street on the sidewalk so it’s definitely great to be back on the pitch again and able to play with the ball. It’s baby steps towards what we’re trying to achieve. 

Q: What is David Beckham like away from the public?

A: He’s just so cool. He’s the owner of our team but he’s also just one of the guys. He’s been there and he gets it and when you sit down with him and you chat it’s just like he’s one of the bros. He’s the one of the guys that I feel like when I’m done playing, I want him to take me snowboarding. It’s so cool to have an owner like that who can relate to you as a player. He’ll have a one on one conversation with you too and pull you aside, which is cool.

Q: How involved is Beckham?

A: We’ve seen him more than a handful of times and even had dinner with him and a couple of the owners. It’s been great. It’s very much like a family here. That’s how they want the culture to be. It’s been great since we’ve been here, we’ve enjoyed it and we love what they’re trying to build.

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you learned at PSV Eindhoven?

A: I think the most important thing that I learned when I was there, and continued to learn after I left as well, was consistency as a young guy going in there. It’s also the mental strength to know you will have bad days, but you have to have the confidence to go in there and train and be one of the top guys every day. If you prove that then you have to consistently do it over and over. That’s what I learned when I was training there, the top guys every day no matter what they were the top guys. It wasn’t like they would have a very bad day one day; they were always good. That was a trait I’ve tried to carry on in my career. 

Q: How did you get so good at soccer?

A: I think like with anything it’s putting the time in no matter what. Whether it’s soccer, whether its school, it’s putting the time in to perfect that craft. For me, the reason I excelled at soccer was that I put more time into it. We trained three times a week with the club team but that wasn’t enough for my dad. He was like ‘if you want to be the best, if you want to be great, if you want to make it, three times isn’t enough.’ Others do it every day twice a day so that’s where my work ethic had to kick in.

Q: What’s it like being part of two different expansion teams?

A: It’s been great to be a part of these two great clubs. To see what LAFC did and be a part of that and to be part of the history we made last year was awesome… Now to come to Miami where we’re trying to build something similar, to have that same success, to see it happening from the very start is so cool. To see how we plant the seed and now we have to watch it grow. It’s great to be a part of this and I can’t wait to see what this team can do. 

Q: Who would you pick in your 5v5 team of former teammates? 

A: Goalie would be [Huerelho] Gomez from PSV, then I would pick [Ibrahim] Affelay, Jefferson Farfán, Patrick Kluivert and Carlos Vela.