Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Revolution [Print without images]

Friday, May 9, 2014
Revs to welcome back Dempsey, Sounders

By Brian O'Connell

For Revolution supporters, Sunday's match is more than just another intra-conference clash as ex-New England midfielder/forward Clint Dempsey returns to Gillette Stadium as a member of the Seattle Sounders.

Dempsey, who won Rookie of the Year in 2004 and was named a Best XI selection in 2005 and 2006, spent three years in Foxborough before he was transferred to EPL outfit Fulham in 2007. And after Wednesday night's game against FC Dallas, the former Revolution star was already looking forward to facing his former club.

"It's always great to go back to where you started," Dempsey told the Seattle Times on Wednesday. "I owe a lot to that organization. They picked me up in the draft and gave me the opportunity to jump-start my career, and playing there allowed me to break into the national team and allowed me to go overseas."

The first-round pick scored 25 goals and added 14 assists in 71 career games for the Revolution between 2004 and 2006. His game-changing ability not only boosted the fortunes of the Revolution, but landed him a spot on the U.S. Men's National Team roster for the 2006 World Cup.

And with Sunday's game likely to be his last before he's called in by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann for World Cup duty, it's only fitting that Dempsey will get the opportunity to say hello to the Foxboro faithful before he departs for National Team camp.

"I have good memories there," Dempsey said. "We got to a semifinal and two finals. It'll be great to go back, but we'll still be looking to get points."

Nguyen winning national praise

After a game in which he helped steer the Revolution offense to a pair of unanswered goals on enemy territory, Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen is getting national attention for what's turning into an All-Star caliber campaign.

MLSSoccer.com columnist Matthew Doyle called Nguyen "the best player you're not watching," which of course, turned the national spotlight on the creative midfielder.

While his current form may be a revelation to many outside of New England, teammates have known for quite some time that Nguyen has been an invaluable component of the Revolution's game plan every week.

"He makes us tick as a team going forward and he can control the tempo of the game," Andy Dorman told revolutionsoccer.net on Wednesday. "The main thing is to get him on the ball as much as possible and we did that to a certain extent on Saturday - probably not as well as we have done the rest of the games this season, but it was enough for him to have an effect on the game."

With Dorman installed at defensive midfielder, Nguyen has been given greater freedom to use his inventiveness to unlock opposing defenses. Though he may be a creative player by trade, Nguyen is just as happy to track back and contribute to the team's defensive efforts.

"It's part of the philosophy Jay (Heaps) instilled in all of us," Nguyen told revolutionsoccer.net. "You work as a unit defensively and it's going to turn over to offensive chances. That's been the mindset. If we put in the effort defensively, it's going to create goals and chances for us going forward."

Neumann the game-changer

Rookie striker Patrick Mullins received plenty of attention for his performance against Toronto, and deservedly so after scoring his first professional goal and setting up the game-winner in the waning moments.

But even though the 11th overall selection in this year's draft certainly boosted his stock at BMO Field, fellow first-round pick Steve Neumann (4th overall) received praise from Heaps after the game.

Although the former Georgetown Hoya has only seen 24 minutes off the bench in the last two games, the Revolution coach said that he's made the most of his playing time. Within the confines of a couple of cameos, Neumann has helped steer the offense toward three late-game goals -- two of them game-winners -- over the last two weeks.

"Steve Neumann is a great example of that," Heaps said of the midfielder's ability to boost the offense. "Last week against Kansas City, he came in and made an excellent improvement. Right now, with goal differential when he's on the field, it's 3-0 in the last two games, and he helped us win this game (last Saturday)."