Revs' Fagundez beaming over professional debut
BOYDS, Md. – Diego Fagundez needed one particular document in hand before he could join the squad for New England's 3-2 victory over D.C. United in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play-in match Tuesday night.
Revolution officials made one thing clear to Fagundez before the trip to Maryland: He couldn't travel with the team or play in the game if he didn't receive the proper written approval from the administration at Leominster High School, just outside Boston.
Fortunately for the 16-year-old Home grown player, the powers that be granted his wish to miss a few days of school and paved the way for him to make his professional debut.
“First, I had to ask permission from my school,” Fagundez told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “They gave me three days to come down here and play.”
Although the permission slip allowed Fagundez to link up with his Revolution teammates, it did not ensure that he would see the field.
The young midfielder came off the bench in the Revolution's 4-1 defeat to United in the Reserve League on March 26 and trained with the first team during school vacation last week, but he understood that those positive signs did not guarantee him any playing time in the Open Cup.
“I didn't know if I was going to play or not when I got here, but I guess [Revolution coach] Stevie Nicol though that I could play,” Fagundez said. “I felt happy to go in and I gave it all.”
Fagundez entered Tuesday night’s match for Ousmane Dabo in the 76th minute and submitted a lively performance during his short spell on the field. The showing nearly included a goal in second-half stoppage time as he curled a shot just wide of the far post to conclude a Revolution counterattack.
“I thought that was going to go in,” Fagundez said. “It was like four inches off. If only I bent it a little bit more.”
Nicol said Fagundez's miss – a sequence in which he passed on the opportunity to feed a couple of open teammates in the center of the park – revealed his confidence and showed that he did not let the moment impact him.
“He was unlucky not to score,” Nicol said. “He's not shy, the wee guy. He goes on the field and he's the same as everybody else.”
The spell on the field served as the highlight of a whirlwind few days for Fagundez. He may have to return to the grind of high school on Thursday, but he will do so with a smile on his face after his experience this week.
“I was happy just to fly here,” Fagundez beamed, “but playing now? I'm even happier.”