Countdown to First Kick: 22 Fagundez's learning curve

As First Kick, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods approaches, MLSsoccer.com is marking each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for the beginning of the 2012 MLS campaign.

22 – Games it took for Diego Fagundez to make an appearance for New England in 2011

“Chiquito pero picoso.” Small but feisty. That’s a common saying in Latin America, and Uruguay-born New England Revolution forward Diego Fagundez proved it rings true in 2011.

At 5-foot-8 and 125 pounds, the 17-year-old midfielder wasted no time showing why the Revs signed him as their first-ever Home Grown Player in 2010. Last season, in his MLS debut against Chivas USA on Aug. 6, Fagundez nearly single-handedly staged a comeback in what was ultimately a 3-2 loss.

Trailing by two goals in the second half, Fagundez came on as a sub in the 66th minute and showed speed and dribbling ability to draw a penalty just two minutes after coming on.

New England gave up another goal, but in the 86th minute, the Mohawked teenager became the first player to score for the club in his debut, wrestling off Goats defender Zarek Valentin to guide the ball into the net.

Fagundez’s resiliency would earn him five more appearances in 2011, including three starts, and he would notch another goal against Seattle and his first assist at Chicago.

Fagundez earned the praise of his teammates for his hard work and dedication, and after a second consecutive disappointing campaign from the Revs, he’s now being viewed as one of the club’s foundations for the future. But with a variety of midfield and attacking acquired by New England during the offseason, Fagundez’s development and exploits in 2012 are likely to continue mostly as a spark off the bench.

New England will play their first home game on March 24 against the Portland Timbers.  GET TICKETS!

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