Fagundez shines for Revs, tallies in first MLS match
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite his tender age and his lack of experience, New England forward Diego Fagundez said only one thing went through his mind as he stood at the halfway line and prepared to enter his first MLS match.
“The first thing I thought was that I needed to try to help the team score a goal,” Fagundez told MLSsoccer.com after the Revolution's 3-2 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday. “And I did.”
It took the 16-year-old Home Grown player about two minutes to accomplish his objective. Fagundez embarked on a darting run at the edge of the penalty area and tempted Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce — a seasoned defender who has logged plenty of games at the international level and in the European game — to haul him down for a penalty kick.
The sequence electrified the Gillette Stadium crowd and gave those eager Revolution fans a glimpse of what Fagundez's new teammates have seen from him on a daily basis in recent weeks.
“He's been putting on a show in practice,” Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “He's a very confident kid. He came in [against Chivas USA] and gave us a huge spark.”
Winning the penalty kick merely served as the prologue in Fagundez's coming-out party. The rising high school sophomore added his first MLS goal in the 86th minute by constructing a sequence beyond what New England could have expected from him. Fagundez aligned himself in the right spot to benefit from Kevin Alston's long diagonal service and eventually poked the ball home to slice the deficit to one.
“The first thing I did was put my hand to my heart to my family,” Fagundez said. “They were standing in the club seats.”
Fagundez's late heroics did not ultimately yield any tangible results for the Revs on the night, but they did provide a talking point in the stands and in the locker room after the match.
“We've seen him train and you can see his quality right off the bat,” Revolution defender Chris Tierney said. “Above all else, he's a good soccer player. You couldn't ask more from a debut. Hopefully, he'll be at this club for a long time.”
Those lofty goals remain off in the distance for a player who wants to contribute as much as he can at this early stage in his career. At this particular moment, Fagundez said that he hopes to earn another opportunity to stand at midfield and positively influence the game.
“I just want to keep working hard in practices,” Fagundez added. “Hopefully, I can prove to Stevie [Nicol, Revolution head coach] and the coaches that I can play again.”