Fagundez: “I think Juan’s really a number 9”
- Updated: March 25, 2017
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It took less than four minutes into Saturday afternoon’s match to tell it was going to be a different day for the New England Revolution offense. After two road losses to open the season, in which the Revolution scored a combined one goal—and that coming from the penalty spot—it didn’t take long into their home opener against struggling expansion side Minnesota United FC to net their first goal from the run of play.
Head coach Jay Heaps had opted to play Lee Nguyen up top in the first two games with Juan Agudelo playing as the attacking midfielder, but swapped the two back to their more natural positions on Saturday. The move paid almost immediate dividends as Agudelo got forward into the box to head home a cross from Chris Tierney inside of four minutes for his first goal of the season.
“I think Juan’s really a number 9 and not a number 10 and then when you have Lee in there we can find more movement and the attack flows a little bit better,” said Diego Fagundez.
“[Nguyen and I] alternate multiple times, maybe a little bit less today—I stayed a little bit higher,” said Agudelo. “More possession of the ball, a little bit less defensive work. I thought it worked out well for us.”
The change was one Heaps said was made to take advantage of what they saw out of Minnesota.
“We did that by design just to get a little bit more for Lee underneath and we felt like there were going to be gaps in the midfield and I thought we had a really good first half,” said Heaps. “It put Juan in a really good position to score a couple goals.”
After a brief scare from a 15th minute Collen Warner long rang equalizer, Nguyen, in his midfield role, and Fagundez combined to set up Kei Kamara in the 21st minute for an easy tap-in. It was the star Designated Player’s first time finding the back of the net in the 2017 season.
“We’re playing at home, we’re comfortable,” said Nguyen. “It’s just one of those things where anytime we’re at home we just want to be on the attack and try to put teams on the back foot. That helps, but at the same time this was our third game, so we’re eventually going to start clicking. It was a good outing for our team offensively and I think we put a good shift in defensively as well.”
Nguyen then made it three for New England in the 32nd minute after Agudelo was tripped up making a run into the box earning a penalty kick, which Nguyen would convert. At that point, the rout was one.
“The first one that went in felt really good confidence-wise as a player, that’s the type of game you want to play when you’ve already scored a goal and you have more time to score another one, it gave me a lot of confidence going on,” said Agudelo.
Nine minutes later Fagundez would find Agudelo open on the left flank and the striker would cut inside the box around a defender before beating former Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth inside the near post to make it 4-1.
“I was just trying to get open as much as possible, get the ball and make sure that our forwards are getting rewarded,” said Fagundez. “I told Juan that if he’s going to make a hard run I’m going to reward him. That’s what we should do. When you have good players like that that are always moving and want the ball then you just have to give them the ball and they just score goals.”
New England would then recover from a sloppy goal given up in the 49th minute to finish off the match with another penalty kick after Fagundez was tripped up making a run into the box. Chris Tierney would convert to make it 5-2 in the 53rd minute and finish off the convincing victory and strong performance by the offense. The Revolution never scored more than three goals in a match in 2016 and hadn’t score five since they did so in back-to-back games in May 2014.
“We knew we weren’t going to lose this game,” said Fagundez. “We had it in our minds that we were going to leave here with three points and I think it showed. Everybody worked hard, everybody was not selfish and when we had our chances we finished them. We probably could’ve had a couple more, but we have to get the positives and move on to the next one.”