New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen said he wants a fresh start away from the club where he has spent the last six years of his MLS career, saying he's paid his dues with the team.
In his first public comments since requesting a trade, Nguyen expressed some frustration with his contract situation. He was the seventh-highest-paid player for the Revs last season and is set to make around the league maximum budget charge this season, and said he had hoped to find a quiet resolution when he put in a trade request at the end of last season.
"I hope things can work out in a manner that benefits everyone," Nguyen told ESPN FC. "I've paid my dues and it gets harder and harder to watch so many players on the Revs and in MLS get rewarded year after year, despite not performing anywhere close to what I have done."
The 31-year-old midfielder said he asked the club for a trade three times -- once after the season, once after it hired new coach Brad Friedel and again before the MLS combine and draft earlier this month.
With no trade in the works and the club set on not moving him, Nguyen decided to hold out from New England's preseason training camp.
New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns recently told MLSSoccer.com that the club will not trade Nguyen, and league sources told ESPN FC the Revs have not engaged teams that have approached about a possible trade for the star midfielder.
Nguyen is only the latest example of a star player unhappy with his situation in New England. Former Revs standout defender A.J. Soares told ESPN FC that New England ownership is "pretty ruthless when it comes to contracts and people."
Though Nguyen has twice had his contract renegotiated with the Revs -- he started around $80,000 in guaranteed money in 2012 and made $500,000 last season -- he has vastly outperformed his deal over the past six seasons.
Nguyen ranks fifth in MLS over the past four seasons with 82 combined goals and assists, behind only Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sebastian Giovinco, Diego Valeri and David Villa. All four of those players are Designated Players making north of $1.5 million per year. Nguyen, meanwhile, only barely qualifies for a Targeted Allocation Money contract.
Nguyen, who finished third in MLS MVP voting in 2014, said he is still hopeful the sides can find a solution -- preferably one that lands Nguyen in a new home.
"For the past six years, I've given everything to the Revs and done my best to help the club win," Nguyen said. "I appreciate my time in New England, but I just feel like I need a new challenge at this point in my career."