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Americans Abroad

Nguyen leaves Indiana to join Beasley at PSV Eindhoven.

Lee Nguyen
Lee Nguyen (right) goes for tackle in PSV Eindhoven training session.
-- PSV Eindhoven web site photo --
By Gary Davidson
SoccerTimes

(Thursday, January 12, 2006) -- Lee Nguyen, named the best men's college freshman player of 2005, has left Indiana University to sign with Dutch Eredivisie power PSV Eindhoven, the Netherlands' largest newspaper reported.

Nguyen, 19, spurned offers from Major League Soccer to join a team that already employs another American -- midfielder DaMarcus Beasley who starts with the club. Nguyen must pass a physical for the deal to be complete, Amersterdam's De Telegraaf said.

The PSV web site said that the club "was pleased" with Nguyen's performance in two trials and the finishing touches were being put on a contract that would run through 2009.

"Nothing's been signed yet, but's going to happen," Indiana coach Mike Freitag said. "We're happy for Lee."

De Telegraaf said Nguyen would initially assigned to the Eindhoven youth side, but would be given a chance with the first team.

Nguyen forfeited his remaining college eligibility when he signed with an agent soon after the two-time defending NCAA Division I champion Hoosiers were eliminated 2-0 by Notre Dame November 22 in the second round of the national tournament.

Nguyen, a Richardson, Tex., native did not respond to phone messages, but he did speak to the Indiana Daily Student recently. "I talked with all of my teammates and they agreed with the time," he said. "Going pro is all about timing. I gotta pick the right time and I think this is it. . . I think this will also help me get exposure for the (United States) men's national team in case I ever get a call up for that."

PSV, the defending Eredivisie champ which has won the first-division league in four of the past six years, is currently in first place at 13-2-3 with 42 points, one ahead of Feyenoord Rotterdam (13-3-2) and three above AZ Alkmaar (12-3-2), which has a game in hand.

Dutch teams were impressed with Nguyen when he played with the U.S. under-20 men who won their preliminary group before finishing 11th in the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands last June. Nguyen was the one high-schooler on the roster; only 16-year-old midfielder Freddy Adu was younger.

Nguyen started one game in the world championships and made one brief relief appearance. In 11 games with the under-20s in 2005, Nguyen had two goals and an assists in 11 outings. Against international competition, he started two out of four matches, but didn't figure in the scoring.

Nguyen spent 2004 and the beginning of 2005 with the U.S. under-18 men.

Nguyen was the SoccerTimes.com College Coaches "Freshman of the Year" and third-team All-American after a first season at Indiana in which he had five goals and led the Big Ten with 12 assists. Though versatile enough to play the midfield, he was usually used by the Hoosiers (17-3-5) as a withdrawn forward.

Indiana coach Mike Freitag was working as a coach at the MLS player combine in Carson, Calif., and could not be reached. He did speak recently to the Daily Student.

"For Lee, whether he's ready or not, he's a very talented player," said Freitag, who signed Nguyen after he was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year. "I think another year of college would have helped him and not just for soccer, but socially and psychologically. He's a hot commodity."

In addition to Nguyen, Freitag lost two other top players with remaining eligibility when junior SoccerTimes.com All-Americans -- striker Jacob Peterson and defender Jed Zayner -- signed contracts with MLS.

Peterson led the Hoosiers with 12 goals in 2005 to give him 30 for his career. In his freshman year, he scored the overtime goal that defeated St. John's 2-1 in the NCAA title match.

Gary Davidson is the SoccerTimes managing editor. E-mail Gary Davidson.

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