FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – If there were any concerns that Diego Fagundez would jump ship after the contract he signed at age 15 expired, the Revolution put them to rest on Wednesday.
Even though he had a year remaining on his original deal, the 18-year-old Homegrown Player agreed to a multi-year extension that will likely keep him in New England through 2016. Per league and club policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It’s something great for me and for my family to accomplish,” Fagundez said following training on Wednesday. “It’s all about hard work and you can keep developing with the team you started with, so it’s great.”
Fagundez, who became the club’s first Homegrown Player when he signed with the team in November 2010, has played in 27 games for the Revolution, earning 11 starts along the way. Primarily featuring as a withdrawn forward, the Leominster, Mass. native has scored four goals and added three assists since making his MLS debut in August 2011.
Keeping Fagundez in Foxboro was no easy proposition. Although the teenager hasn’t yet become a fixture in the starting XI, his ability to create and challenge opposing backlines has generated buzz both Stateside and abroad.
Another sign that the former Academy star’s future is bright came last October, when he was called into Uruguay’s U-20 squad. Clearly, many sets of eyes remained fixed on the Revolution wonderkid.
In light of that, Revolution general manager Michael Burns admits that he was pleasantly surprised that the side were able to come to come to another agreement.
“A little bit, given that he had another year after this,” Burns said. “I wasn’t sure which route he would want to go, but we’re obviously pleased that he wanted to remain here.”
Fagundez certainly pondered the decision to stay in Foxboro. He knew that he could probably find a trial or negotiate a deal with another club – possibly in Uruguay.
But, in the final analysis, it all boiled down to the present, rather than the future, and all the possibilities that might or might not come to pass.
“I like the environment here, and my family (does too),” Fagundez said. “It’s a nice country and I just need to get all my stuff sorted out. It’s kind of hard to just grab all of your stuff and just move away.”
While Burns advised that the new deal was beneficial to both side, Fagundez also sees what it represents in the big picture.
Not long ago, Fagundez was one of hundreds of local youth players looking for a chance to latch on with the Revolution Youth Academy, which was launched in 2008. From those hundreds, he emerged as one of the best, not only in the Academy, but in the entire U.S. Soccer Development Academy program.
So the way Fagundez sees it, the extension isn’t so much about him as it is about the the hundreds of kids who continue to play in the Academy system.
“If you think about it now, the Academy players can (realistically) think that they have a chance,” Fagundez. “It’s a good step for me and I think it’s a good step for them to join the Academy.”
It’s a good development for the first team, as well. With Fagundez on board for the next few years, head coach Jay Heaps can continue to mold his youngest charge, hoping that he can reach the potential to become the most dynamic player to don a Revolution uniform since Clint Dempsey.
With a new deal in place, Fagundez isn’t peering years into the future, however promising. Rather, it’s all about the here and now, which suits the high school senior just fine.
“Right now, I just want to develop with the team and make me better as a player and try to help the team,” Fagundez said. “(Signing for) two more years, I can relax and not be focusing on anything else. I can just focus on playing.”