After his freshman year at Indiana, when he was named the Soccer America Freshman of the Year, former Dallas Texans star Lee Nguyen signed with Dutch giant PSV. Now 23, he wanted to return home after stints with PSV, Randers FC in Denmark and Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Vietnam, but he says he'll stay in Vietnam after being offered the league minimum by MLS for five years.
Nguyen, who played for the USA at the 2005 Under-20 World Cup, says finding an MLS team wasn't the problem. "I was willing to compromise," he said, "and come back for a pay cut or have a performance-based contract, having something progress within the next couple of years-maybe something after the first or second seasons it goes up if I play well-but they wanted to lock me down for five years at the minimum, so I had other things to consider. Not just me but my family, taking care of them as well. And I couldn't even take care of myself if that was the case."
Nguyen is back at Hoang Anh Gia Lai, based in Pleiku. It resumes play in the V-League on Jan. 31. According to Vietnamese media reports, Nguyen was the highest-paid player in the V-League with a salary of $10,000 a month. The MLS minimum salary in 2009 was $36,000 a year.