New England Soccer Today

Fagundez Gets His Shot

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After going scoreless for a career-long 14 appearances for the second time, Diego Fagundez was finally able to breakthrough on Sunday night, converting perfect free kick from just outside the 18 to help New England to a 1-1 draw.

Fagundez’s last goal came in September of 2014, a 2-1 win over Chicago when the Massachusetts native found the back of the net with his head in the first half. Fagundez did not appear in any of the Revolution’s five playoff games last season.

“It feels great,” the 20-year old said after the game. “It feels like something came off my back a little bit. I’ve been looking for it for a while but it hasn’t happened. I got my chance with a free kick, been practicing all week and got it.”

The Revolution struck first in the 5th minute when Scott Caldwell found Teal Bunbury to put the hosts up 1-0 but the defending MLS Cup champions responded. Ignacio Maganto leveled the game with a one timer from just outside the area in the 18th minute and Gyasi Zardes gave the Galaxy the lead in the 27th minute, taking a beautiful back heel from Jose Villarreal before slotting it past Bobby Shuttleworth.

Fagundez pulled one back for New England just 10 minutes later on a set piece. Teal Bunbury drew a foul from Omar Gonzalez just a step outside the semi-circle above the area. The Galaxy put six in the wall but Fagundez calmly used a two-step approach and placed his shot over the wall, curling it into the back corner just out of the reach of goalie Jaime Penedo.

“I just saw an open side and just said I needed to get it up there over the wall,” Fagundez said.

With both Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney out of the lineup because of a red card last week, Jermaine Jones subbed off just minutes before because of an injury and Kelyn Rowe on the bench, the free kick duties fell to Fagundez, who said he thinks the last time he took a free kick in a game was when he played for the Revolution Academy.

“Diego does those in practice quite a bit,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “This week he’d been really good on set pieces and I think that was something we were looking forward to. I think a lot of guys thought he was going to make it.

“Diego’s a very good player and we thought we would slide him in there and get a good start for us.”

It was Fagundez’s second start in the last three games – he was an unused sub against DC United – after appearing as a substitute in his last six appearances.

“It feels great, I think everyone wants to be there,” Fagundez said of being in the starting XI again. “For me I was just trying to fill in Lee’s spot for a little and I gave it all I had in the middle and got a goal out of it.

“I’ve always played [in the middle] so I feel very comfortable. It’s one of those positions I can play all three of them but whoever Jay needs be I’ll be playing there.”

Before Jones was subbed off, Fagundez had taken New England’s two first half corner kicks. With the team trailing by one, Jones came off in the 35th minute.

When asked if his free kick was a chance to lift the team up after the Jones sub, Fagundez said, “It wasn’t just that, we were down and we were trying to get another goal before half and once I had that chance I said I need to get this in to help the team. That’s when I had to step up.”

The goal could be a sign of things to come for Fagundez, who has had a knack of being a streaky player in the past. Last May, Fagundez recorded six points in just three games after having just one point in his previous 10 games leading up to that streak. After that small streak, Fagundez had just one assist in his next 14 appearances.

“I do think Diego rides the wave, and unfortunately rides the ups and the downs and we’re trying to get him to be a little bit more consistent,” Heaps said. “So I hope this takes him in the right direction and keeps him fighting for more minutes and more starts.”

Heaps will have a decision to make next week when the Revolution travel to Portland for a game against the Timbers. Nguyen will be back from suspension but Juan Agudelo is likely to miss the game due to U.S. National Team duty and Jones, who was also called up to the U.S., could miss the match from either the call-up or his injury.

“I’ve been going to every training to try and find my spot,” Fagundez said. “I had a chance today and I gave it all I had and now it’s up to Jay to decide.”

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