A midfielder/striker with playing experience in Europe and Southeast Asia, Lee Nguyen joined Whitecaps FC via the MLS weighted Lottery process on Dec. 15, 2011, after the product of Richardson, Texas, signed a multi-year contract with the league on Dec. 6, 2011. A United States international, Nguyen was selected to join Vancouver ahead of FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and Toronto FC in the weighted Lottery.
2011: Playing his third season in the V-League (now Vietnamese Super League), Nguyen was a popular figure in Vietnam and the highest-paid athlete in the country that year. During his second season with Becamex Binh Duong FC, the Thu Dau Mot-based club finished sixth in the V-League standings and reached the quarterfinals of the Vietnamese Cup before falling on penalties to eventual winners Navibank Saigon FC on Feb. 12. Nguyen ended his spell in Vietnam when the midfielder/striker and Binh Duong mutually agreed to terminate his contract on June 29. 2010: Despite fielding interest from several MLS clubs, Nguyen signed an 18-month contract with Binh Duong on Mar. 22 after starting the V-League season with Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC (HAGL). The midfielder/striker made his Binh Duong debut in a 5-2 home win over Lam Sơn Thanh Hóa FC on May 30, with Nguyen recording two assists in the victory. Binh Duong finished ninth in the V-League standings that season and reached the quarterfinals of the Vietnamese Cup before falling on penalties to Nguyen’s former club and cup finalists HAGL on Mar. 29. 2009: Nguyen became the first American to play in the Vietnamese V-League when he signed with HAGL on Jan. 17. The midfielder/striker had a spectacular debut for the Pleiku-based outfit, as Nguyen struck a hat-trick in a 3-2 home win over Saigon United FC in the first round of the Vietnamese Cup. His first V-League goal came in a 3-2 victory at home to Xi Mang Hai Phong FC on Mar. 8. In his 24 appearances for HAGL that season, Nguyen scored 13 goals and recorded 16 assists in all competitions. This included a total of nine league goals, as HAGL finished sixth in the V-League that year. He also had a total of four goals in the club’s Vietnamese Cup run to the quarterfinals before HAGL fell 2-1 at home to Nguyen’s future club Binh Duong on July 15.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
2009-10: After playing his first season in the Vietnamese V-League, Nguyen joined English Premier League giants Arsenal FC for a month-long training spell in Sept. 2009. Through a club partnership with V-League club Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC, the midfielder/striker trained with The Gunners in the hopes of landing another contract with a European club following spells in the Netherlands and Denmark.
2008-09: Nguyen made nine league appearances for Randers FC that season, with the midfielder/striker recording an assist as a late substitute during a 4-1 away win over SønderjyskE on Nov. 2, 2008. Randers FC finished fifth in the standings that season, with The Horses earning a spot in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League for the following season after finishing top of the Danish Superliga’s Fair Play Rankings. Nguyen also started for Randers FC in the DBU Pokalen (Danish Cup) ‘Round of 16’, as they fell 3-2 at Danish Superliga rivals AC Horsens on Oct. 29, 2008. 2007-08: Following a trial with the club, Nguyen joined Randers FC on the final day of the January transfer window (Jan. 31), signing a contract until the summer of 2009 with the Superliga outfit. He made a total of 13 appearances for The Horses that season, with his debut being a goalless draw at Aarhus GF on Mar. 20, 2008. He assisted on Tidiane Sane’s winning goal during a 1-0 victory at Viborg FF on May 18, 2008. Randers FC finished sixth in the Superliga standings that season.
2007-08: After struggling to break into the first team at Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, Nguyen brought his spell in the Netherlands to an end when he joined Danish Superliga club Randers FC on the final day of the January transfer window (Jan. 31). 2006-07: With Ronald Koeman replacing Guus Hiddink as PSV manager that season, Nguyen struggled to break into the Eindhoven club’s first team, despite performing well in the PSV reserve side. His only first-team appearance that season came as a late substitute in the Johan Cruyff Shield XI (Dutch Super Cup), as the Dutch Eredivisie champions fell 3-1 to KNVB (Dutch) Cup holders Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA on Aug. 13, 2006. 2005-06: After impressing PSV manager Hiddink with his performances for the United States at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands, Nguyen made the move to Europe when he joined the Eindhoven club that season. The PSV squad briefly included Whitecaps FC teammate Young-Pyo Lee before the South Korean international made the switch to English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC in Aug. 2005. The midfielder/striker’s debut for PSV came as a substitute in the 1-0 away win over Heracles Almelo on Feb. 11, 2006. Nguyen replaced fellow United States international DaMarcus Beasley in the second half.
2005: Nguyen had an outstanding freshman year in NCAA Division I at Indiana University. In 22 appearances, he ranked third with the Hoosiers and fourth in the Big Ten Conference with 21 points, while he led the team and the Big Ten Conference with 12 assists. For his efforts, the midfielder/striker was named Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference, as well as by Soccer America and Soccer Times. He was also the only freshman to make the All-Big Ten Conference First Team and was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten Conference Freshmen Team. His first goal and assist for the Hoosiers came in a 5-0 victory over California State University, Northridge, on Sept. 16. His five goals that season for Indiana included a strike during a 2-2 draw with Oregon State University on Sept. 17; the match-winner from the penalty spot during a 2-0 win at University of Michigan on Oct. 9; and the first goal from the penalty spot during a 5-2 victory at University of Wisconsin on Oct. 14. He also struck a 25-yard free kick for the match winner during a 3-0 away win over University of Notre Dame on Oct. 26. The Hoosiers finished runners-up in the 2005 Big Ten Conference Tournament before falling to Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament.
Nguyen has represented the United States at youth and senior international levels. Senior: As a 20-year-old, the midfielder/striker earned three senior international caps with the Americans in 2007. His senior international debut came as a late substitute for former PSV teammate Beasley during a 4-1 friendly win over China on June 2, 2007. Nguyen was then named in Bob Bradley’s 22-player USA squad for the 2007 Copa America in Venezuela, where he made two substitute appearances in Group C at the South American championship. This included the 3-1 defeat to Paraguay on July 2, 2007, and the 1-0 defeat to Colombia on July 5, 2007. The Americans missed out on the quarterfinals after finishing bottom of Group C. U-23: The midfielder/striker was one of 22 players to be named in the USA U-23 Olympic team by current Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak for the 2008 Toulon International Tournament in Toulon, France. Playing in Group B, Nguyen appeared in the 3-2 defeat to Turkey on May 21, 2008; the 1-0 defeat to Côte d'Ivoire on May 23, 2008; and the 2-0 defeat to Italy on May 25, 2008. The USA missed out on the tournament semifinals after finishing bottom of Group B. U-20: As an 18-year-old, the midfielder/striker was named in the USA’s 21-player squad for the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands by current Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. He was a late substitute in the goalless draw with Germany on June 14, 2005, before starting the USA’s 1-0 victory over Egypt on June 18, 2005. Despite winning Group D, Schmid’s young squad went out at the ‘Round of 16’ stage following a 3-1 defeat to Italy on June 21, 2005. U-18: Before his freshman year at Indiana University, Nguyen was a member of the USA U-18 squad, having led the team with four goals in four matches at the Copa Chivas Youth Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, in Jan. 2005. At the 2005 Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland, Nguyen started all three matches for Bob Jenkins’ side, as the young Americans won the Elite Group tournament for the first time. His starts included a 1-1 draw with Brazil on Aug. 1, 2005; a 1-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro on Aug. 3, 2005; and a 4-2 win over hosts Northern Ireland in the Elite Group final on Aug. 5, 2005.
Nguyen had a distinguished career at Plano East Senior High School in Plano, Texas. In 2004, he was named Gatorade National High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year in the United States. He followed Whitecaps FC teammate Jordan Harvey in winning the accolade, with Harvey winning the award in 2001. As a senior with the Panthers, Nguyen was also a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Youth Boys Region III All-American and a two-time PARADE Magazine All-American selection. He also developed as a player with Dallas Texans Soccer Club, having won state, Region III, and United States Youth Soccer national titles with the club. During his time with the Texans, the midfielder/striker also claimed Dallas Cup and Disney’s Soccer Showcase tournament titles.
A dual American/Vietnamese citizen, Nguyen was born in McKinney, Texas, and raised in Richardson, Texas. His parents are Michelle and Pham Nguyen. The midfielder/striker studied business at Indiana University.
An outstanding student, Nguyen was a member of the National Honor Society in the United States. He also dedicated his time to working with handicapped children during his high school years.