“The little man, Diego, had a heck of a night,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com.
Fagundez caused the Red Bulls all sorts of problems on the ball by picking up the right spots from his starting position on either flank and sliding into awkward spaces for much of the night. His constant movement befuddled his markers regularly and placed him in positions to influence the game.
His deft work even extended into situations where he probably shouldn't harm opposing defenses. Fagundez snatched the opening goal after 54 minutes when he managed to get a foot on Chris Tierney's service from a corner kick and then slot home the rebound after Kosuke Kimura somehow hacked his first effort off the line.
“Diego is surprisingly crafty in terms of finding the right spot (on corner kicks),” Tierney said. “He's obviously one of the smallest players on the field, but he's got great instincts. He's always on the move in the box, which all good goalscorers are.”
Fagundez lamented his luck 10 minutes from time when he probably should have notched his second. Tierney served a low ball into the penalty area after good work from Andy Dorman and Lee Nguyen to switch the play. Fagundez floated into the right spot and turned his first-time effort toward goal. New York goalkeeper Luis Robles somehow managed to kick it away to safety.
“He even told me it was just a reaction (save),” Fagundez said. “It was just a really good reaction save by him. There was nothing I could have done.”
Another spurned chance shortly before the final whistle – a shot blazed over the bar from a Ryan Guy pass – did not fall into that category, but that miss and the resulting draw did not obscure the impact of his overall display.
The Homegrown star has found it difficult to work his way into the side at points this season (five starts in nine matches), but his performance on this night and his recent work on the whole inspired Heaps to suggest that Fagundez is ready to contribute more consistently as the season progresses.
“He's going to create more by being more involved in the offense,” Heaps said after citing his work in the buildup for his own chance 10 minutes from time. “I like that about Diego: his awareness tactically, that's natural. His two-way play is showing me he is ready for the next level.”