Lee Nguyen training at Inter Miami CF Center

Fútbol Focus: Lee Nguyen

Inter Miami midfielder Lee Nguyen’s career has taken him down an intriguing path. Beginning in college stateside, then making stops in the Netherlands, Denmark and Vietnam before eventually returning and starring in MLS, the American footballer with Vietnamese roots has done it all. A creative midfielder that excels in attack, Nguyen brought bags of experience and loads of talent with him to the Club. 

Born in Richardson, Texas, Nguyen joined youth team Dallas Texans at the age of 10 to kick off his career after his father instilled a love for the game in him in his early days. In 2005, he was the recipient of the prestigious Gatorade High School Player of the Year during his senior year.

His performances throughout his time in high school were enough to get noticed by the U.S. Men’s National Team set-up, which led to Nguyen making his debut for the U-18 and U-20 sides in the first months of 2005 before graduating. Most notably, that summer he was the only high school player named to the U.S.’s squad for the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup 

After returning from the World Cup, Nguyen briefly attended Indiana University Bloomington, where he played one season for the Hoosiers. His time there proved to be a success, as he registered five goals and 12 assists in 22 appearances and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, among several other awards. Nguyen’s standout status during his sole season for the school didn’t go unnoticed and in February 2006, at the age of 19, he signed his first professional contract with Eredivisie (the first division in the Netherlands) giants PSV Eindhoven.

As a young player, his time with PSV was valuable for his development. At the club, he was managed by world-class coach Guus Hiddink and trained alongside standouts such as Phillip Cocu, Jefferson Farfán and Ibrahim Afellay, while also sharing the pitch with fellow American DaMarcus Beasley. 

During his time as a PSV player, Nguyen made his debut for the senior side of the USMNT on June 7, 2007, in a 4-1 victory against China. That summer he was called up for the 2007 Copa América, where he made two appearances. To date, he’s represented the USMNT on nine occasions. 

After being part of the squad that won two Eredivisie titles in his three-year stint with PSV, Nguyen joined Danish side Randers FC in search of regular playing time in January 2009. After one year and 23 appearances in Denmark, the midfielder embarked on a journey to his father’s country, Vietnam. In the Vietnamese first division, he played for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai from 2009 to 2010 and Becamex Binh Duong from 2010 to 2011 before bringing his talents to MLS in 2012 to play for the New England Revolution. Since then, Nguyen has established himself as one of the most productive midfielders in the league.

He guided the Revolution to three playoff appearances (2013, 2014 and 2015) with his influential performances during his six-year stay at the club, where he was teammates with current Inter Miami forward Juan Agudelo for several seasons. In 2014, he led the Revolution to an Eastern Conference title as they reached the MLS Cup final, while scoring 18 goals, finishing third in MLS MVP voting and being named to the MLS Best XI. 

In 2018, he joined expansion side Los Angeles FC, where he continued to showcase all his class. In his two seasons in Los Angeles, Nguyen played a pivotal role for the historic side that won the 2019 Supporters’ Shield and set a record for most points in an MLS regular season. 

Overall, before becoming the third player selected by Inter Miami in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft, Nguyen clocked 239 MLS regular season appearances while registering 54 goals and 58 assists. At the Club, the 5-foot-8 MLS veteran quickly integrated himself as a member of the team, becoming one of the leading voices within the locker room. So far he has made one official appearance for the team, coming in as a sub in our historic MLS debut against LAFC on March 1, 2020.

Now, in South Florida, the 33-year-old creative midfielder once again has the opportunity to be part of history during the first season of an MLS expansion franchise. Nguyen will be itching to show Inter Miami fans all of his attacking repertoire that helped him become one of the league’s most exciting midfielders.