American Exports: Nguyen deals with delays, decisions
by Greg Seltzer
Vietnamese league star and former US international Lee Nguyen tells MLSsoccer.com the stress fracture in his foot is slowly coming along after finally being diagnosed correctly last month.
The 24-year-old, who was recently revealed as the highest-paid professional athlete in Vietnam, has been limited to just five appearances from a possible 16 V-League games this season for club team Binh Duong. He has not been fit to play since leaving their March 19 draw at Ha Noi ACB after 80 minutes with what appeared to be, at the time, a minor recurring injury.
"I can't wait until I can get back out on the pitch," Nguyen told MLSsoccer.com by phone from his home near Dallas. "I've had a foot injury that has been nagging since February."
He played into March with discomfort, even completing a March 13 brace with the 4-3 winner over Lam So'n Thanh Hoa. The following week, the injury was exacerbated.
"It happened in a game and I got kicked or stepped on pretty hard," he said. "I didn't realize it at first because it wasn't extremely painful and almost felt like a bruise, but three weeks later the pain still didn't go away. I then went to get it checked and turns out I had a stress fracture on the side of my foot."
He's back in the US for rehab, but also to decide what to do when his contract expires at season's end.
"I am back here in the States to see what the best solution is for my well-being and my future," he said. "I will be looking at all my options, not just Vietnam."
Another pressing matter is his pending application for a Vietnamese passport, which would allow Nguyen to remain a star in his ancestral second home without taking up a foreign player slot.
"The process is currently under way and many people are working on [it]," he said. "I feel very confident that my Vietnamese citizenship will be granted."
With only three friendly US caps, the new passport would also give Nguyen the option of switching his FIFA international allegiance to Vietnam.
"There is potential for it happening, but it’s something I won't think about just yet," he said. "I think what happens in the next year and where I decide to sign will have a lot to do with it."
Since Nguyen went down with the injury, Binh Duong have won just once in nine games to slip to eighth in the 14-team V-League. They will visit Khanh Hoa on Sunday.