New England Soccer Today

The Agudelo Effect

(Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

(Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Not long ago, Axe rolled out a series of commercials that showed how well its body spray worked on a mannequin. It was called “The Axe Effect.” One spritz and an extremely attractive woman instantly appeared. Sometimes, two. If only college had been that easy.

What does this have to do with Friday’s return of Juan Agudelo to New England? Nothing in the literal sense. But metaphorically? Everything. Everything about the way in which the introduction of a single element can profoundly alter an entire situation. The “Agudelo Effect,” if you will.

The re-signing of Agudelo was a major coup for the Revolution, no question. The 22-year-old is a lethal finisher who’s also tactically aware. But what makes the acquisition so intriguing is the major influence he can wield on even the most stationary offense.

Twenty months ago, the Revolution brought Agudelo to Foxborough hoping jump start an offense that had only scored two goals in its first six games. An offense that, at one point, went nearly eight hours without a goal, and during the same span, went over two and half hours without a shot on target.

But once Agudelo donned the Revolution kit, those issues disappeared quickly. Stationed at the tip of the 4-1-4-1, Agudelo did more than just score: he single-handedly shocked a comatose attack back to life.

Consider this: prior Agudelo’s arrival in 2013, Diego Fagundez had only scored two goals through mid-May, and perhaps more notably, wasn’t a sure-fire starter for that matter. By season’s end, he racked up a team high 13 goals and piled up seven assists. But Fagundez wasn’t the only one who benefited from Agudelo’s presence on the pitch.

Not far from Fagundez on the field was Kelyn Rowe, who seemed destined for a sophomore slump after injuries plagued him during the early part of the season. Sophomore what? That was the real question surrounding Rowe once curtains fell on a 2013 campaign in which the former first-rounder led the team in assists (eight) and scored seven goals.

Of course, Fagundez and Rowe were the greatest beneficiaries of the Agudelo acquisition. Both enjoyed career seasons, which not surprisingly, helped spur the Revolution to their first postseason appearance in four years. But one stat that jumps out from that surprising third-place finish: the Revolution scored 2.14 goals per game with Agudelo on the pitch, nearly a full goal better than the average (1.25) they registered when he was out due to injury.

Flash forward to 2015. The squad that Agudelo joins this time around is unquestionably better than the 2013 iteration. The questions and concerns are fewer and farther in between. Oh, then there’s the fact that the team that’ll welcome him back is, by and large, the same one that came within inches of an MLS Cup title last month. True story.

On paper, Agudelo’s return should signal revivals from Fagundez and Rowe, both of whom saw their offensive production dip last season. The defenders that the 6-1, 180 lbs. striker dragged away from both opened up space that simply wasn’t there as often in 2014.

That’s especially true for Fagundez, who established an immediate and obvious rapport with Agudelo both on and off the pitch. Revolution supporters were understandably filled with excitement when reports first surfaced of Agudelo’s imminent return last week. But perhaps no one was happier about the news than a certain Homegrown Player.

Of course, the soon-to-be-20-year-old has to do his part. The biggest knock on Fagundez last year was his disregard for defense, which led to early exits and reduced playing time. Agudelo’s return could provide added incentive to redouble his efforts tracking back.

While Fagundez should benefit from playing with Agudelo, it’ll be interesting to see what effect his reintroduction has on Lee Nguyen. Many cited the arrival of Jermaine Jones as the impetus of Nguyen’s superlative second half form, but the truth is that much of his success derived from the grunt work performed by Charlie Davies, who stands to see fewer minutes with Agudelo in tow.

Regardless of whose stats rise or fall, the only thing that matters to Jay Heaps is the team’s success. And with the strong and technically sound striker back in the fold, the Agudelo Effect could deliver something that a certain body spray could never lure: a gorgeous MLS Cup trophy.

One Comment

  1. pauloblitzz

    January 31, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I just hope the defense doesn’t think that they can take it easy since we’ll presumably have a good attacking side. It seems like at times its one or the other that’s carrying the squad instead of both simultaneously. We don’t need both on their A game every match but if we can get that for the majority of the time we’ll be a tough team to beat.

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