Saving His Best for Last?

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Fabio Machado, Jr. showed up for his Revolution Youth Academy tryout three years ago, he wasn’t holding his breath about making one of the two Academy teams.

Despite earning numerous accolades at the high school and club levels, all Machado saw were hundreds of talented teenagers around him all challenging for a spot in the Academy. Not that it wasn’t expected, of course. All of his friends had been talking about it.

But, there was no way he’d be able to make an impression among so many talented players. At least, that’s what he thought. So, instead of being nervous about it, Machado simply stepped onto the Gillette Stadium turf hopeful for the best.

“I thought I’d give it a try,” said Machado. “I just came to the tryouts and did pretty good, and got a call back.”

To beat out so many of his peers was no small feat, by any means. But, to do it on the same pitch that his watched hometown Revolution heroes play on?

“It was a big deal,” said Machado. “To walk onto the (Gillette Stadium) field for the first time was amazing. As a kid, you just want to be able to play here.”

Since that tryout back in 2008, Machado has certainly made the most of his time in the Academy. In his first season with the U-16s, he scored five goals and racked up five assists in 26 games. A year later, he was elevated to the U-18 roster, and scored five more goals and added three assists in 27 games.

Although his numbers may not be eye popping for a forward, U-18 head coach John Frederick noted that Machado has made tremendous strides in his three seasons with the youth squads.

“We look at him as one of our more improved players in the Academy,” said Frederick. “We’re expecting really big things from him this season.”

So far this season, Machado has been force at forward. Through seven games so far, the Leominster native has scored three goals, including a brace against the Minnesota Thunder U-18s in the U.S. Development Academy Winter Showcase on December 5th. For Frederick, it’s a sure sign that Machado has turned a major corner after a somewhat quiet 2009-10 season.

“I think last season, we looked at him and he always had the ability,” said Frederick. “(But), for whatever reason last season, it didn’t translate into alot of goals.”

So what explains Machado’s sudden goal surge this season?

“He came into this season with a lot of confidence coming off his high school season,” said Frederick. “He did very well down in Phoenix (during the Showcase) and just really exploded.”

It’s not just in the goal department, either. With a set of impressive performances already in the books, Frederick noted that his speedy striker has set the example for the rest of the team.

“Fabio’s been one of our bright lights in the preseason,” said Frederick. “He’s really worked hard. His work ethic has been outstanding this year.”

It goes beyond work ethic. Anyone can work hard and look terrible on the pitch. For Frederick, the combination of hard work, along with good instincts, has made Machado a more complete player.

“Technically, he’s very gifted,” said Frederick. “He’s good on the ball, he’s quick, he’s got a good nose for the goal and doesn’t neglect when we don’t have the ball, he works well on the defensive side of the ball.”

As a result, Machado, paired up top with another talented striker – Cole Denormandie – have given the Revolution U-18s a two-headed goal monster up top. And while the U-18s may have come up empty-handed in the win department this past weekend, it wasn’t for lack of effort or opportunities, many of which were found by Machado.

Even though they have looked particularly sharp as of late, Machado believes that it will continue to improve given the number of new players on this year’s squad.

“There’s a lot of new kids this year,” said Machado. “There have been five on the U-18s that have been here since the start, but we’re getting a good chemisty, everybody’s talking and we’re working really good.”

Machado is excited at the thought of making his final season at the Academy his best. With college looming next fall, Machado – who will attend Southern New Hampshire University – hopes that this season won’t be his last season on the storied Revolution pitch.

“The dream is to play here (professionally),” said Machado. “If that happens, I’ll be excited.”

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He's contributed to The Associated Press, The Canadian Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or e-mail him at BOConnell21@aol.com