New England Soccer Today

Fagundez Finds His Groove

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Although the New England Revolution’s late-season rally left them short of the Eastern Conference playoffs based on a tiebreaker, one of the bright spots down the stretch was the return to form of Diego Fagundez.

The 21-year-old from Leominster, Mass. still has yet to match his breakout performance in 2013, when he tallied 13 goals and seven assists and earned the club’s season MVP award. However, with a scintillating final seven games – which aligned with the Revs’ 5-2-0 record in September and October – Fagundez finished third on the team in both goals and assists, with six apiece.

On Sunday, in New England’s 3-0 victory over the Montreal Impact in the regular season finale, Fagundez factored in heavily in a dominant 25-shot offensive performance, sparking the squad with a 13th-minute free kick golazo.

“I’ve practiced my whole life doing that,” Fagundez said. “It was between me and Lee (Nguyen), and I told him that if I got it then we’ll score, and he let me get that chance… It’s one of those things that you share moments in the game.”

With Montreal perhaps surprised that Fagundez got the call on a dead ball situation at the left edge of the box, he was able to find an open lane to curl his volley around the defense, off the right post and in to give the Revs a 1-0 lead.

“He knows what I can do on free kicks,” Fagundez said of Nguyen’s deference. “We know how good we are, and we always work hard in training, so whoever’s taking it, we’re going to be good for each other and support each other.”

If the scoring finished then, Fagundez would have tied Nguyen, Juan Agudelo and Kei Kamara for the team’s scoring lead, however, the latter two both scored in the second half. In the 71st minute, Fagundez found open space in the center of the field to accept a centering ball from Nguyen and generously moved it on to Kamara for an open look at goal, rewarding the forward for a high-energy game.

“This game I think everybody was passing, moving and we definitely broke them down and once we got our first, it opened up a lot more,” Fagundez said.

“It’s one of those games where we have nothing to lose, but we still have a little more to fight and make sure we left here with a nice bang,” he added.

During the course of the Revolution’s late-season playoff push, Fagundez had a goal or assist in five of the final seven games, racking up three goals and four assists during that span. That meant he factored in on 47 percent of the team’s goals during that time, a stat only matched by Juan Agudelo, who tallied four goals and three assists.

It would be fair to level some of the blame for the Revolution’s first playoff absence since 2012 on Fagundez, who is supposed to be an ascendant player.

After all, Fagundez looked headed for his weakest season since reaching adulthood, with a paltry three goals and two assists through the first 27 games. That included a frustrating 17-game stretch from May through August in which he did not score or assist on a single Revolution goal.

Instead, the Revs can look now at this season as a step in the right direction, as Fagundez played all 34 games for the first time and finished with his second-best career totals in goals, assists, minutes played (2,236) and shots (64).

Certainly, it’s important for Fagundez to show more consistency across an entire season – a reminder: he’s still just 21 – but his and Agudelo’s late-season performances give the Revolution a larger and more promising core group of players on the rise as they look to rebound in 2017.

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