New England Soccer Today

Fagundez Shines

At just 16 years old, Diego Fagundez finished the 2011 season as a starter for the New England Revolution. After finally earning some appearances off the bench late in the summer, the Revs first-ever home grown player impressed enough to earn a spot in the starting eleven.

With Rajko Lekic’s and Milton Caraglio’s departures, it appeared Fagundez would have good shot at seeing plenty of playing time in 2012 under new head coach Jay Heaps. In fact, despite scoring just two goals in 2011, Fagundez was left as the Revs top scoring forward in MLS in 2011 still on the roster heading into preseason.

Yet a combination of illness, new strikers and trialists meant Fagundez had little time to impress in the 2012 preseason so far. That changed on Wednesday.

With coach Heaps using his third starting forward pairing in as many games of the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, Fagundez finally got his shot and the now 17-year-old delivered.

Just nine minutes into Wednesday’s match against Real Salt Lake the Leominster, Mass. native found the back of the net. Making a run into the box, Fagundez was found by an unselfish Zack Schilawski and slotted a shot into the net to open the scoring.

And Fagundez wasn’t done. With the match again tied in the second half, the diminutive striker caught Kyle Reynish off his line in the 56th minute and attempted to chip a shot over the Salt Lake ‘keeper. Fagundez’s effort was denied by the crossbar, but fell perfectly for trialist Björn Runström to finish for the game-winner in the Revs 2-1 victory.

Fagundez finally had the opportunity to shine and he made the most of it. If the Revs were worried about depth at forward behind Saer Sene and the expected to arrive soon Jose Moreno up top, Fagundez was quick to ease fears and may have hurt a few trialists’ chances in the process.

The Revs coaching staff has been hesitant this preseason to commit to what role Fagundez will play this year, afraid to place too much expectations on the youngster. Yet due to the circumstances keeping Fagundez from seeing much preseason action, the pressure was clearly on him to impress on Wednesday to make a case for playing time this season.

Regardless of how he did, should Moreno arrive as expected, it seems unlikely the youngster will be a starter. But, it’s a long season and whoever’s third in line is sure to see no shortage of action as a substitute, filling in for injuries or simply when a starter’s resting.

If Wednesday’s night’s effort was any indication, Fagundez is putting in his best effort to make sure that third striker’s him.

With Kelyn Rowe and Benny Feilhaber, the team’s offensive catalysts so far this preseason, resting, it was Fagundez who spearheaded the attack. Whether it was scoring the opening goal or setting up the second with an audacious chip over the ‘keeper, Fagundez outshined his fellow strikers – either rostered or on trial – on the night.

The Uruguayan born Revs Academy product made his case to be a big part of Heaps plans this season and showed just what he has to offer. With more trialists likely to depart before the weekend, Fagundez could very well get another chance on Saturday.

If the youngest player in Revolution history can turn in another performance like he did Wednesday in the championship match of the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday, Heaps will have a great problem in lineup selection heading in the 2012 season and Fagundez will likely see plenty of MLS action.


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