FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Diego Fagundez knew what to expect when he traveled to Montevideo last week for his first training camp with the Uruguay Under-20 national team. He just didn't anticipate the reaction he would receive from his new teammates.
“I wasn't expecting them to come to me like family, but they all brought me into the family,” the New England Revolution striker told MLSsoccer.com. “It wasn't that I had to earn my respect from them. It was, 'Come in and join our family [and], hopefully, we can see what you have.'”
Fagundez did his best to display his qualities in two scrimmages against Peru. He said he featured for the final quarter of an hour in a 0-0 draw on Tuesday and played the entire second half in a 2-1 victory on Thursday.
Journey To Excellence: Diego Fagundez
The experience offered a change of pace for Fagundez because he competed against his peers instead of more established professionals. He said he thought he showed well in his new environment despite the battle for places within the squad.
“Playing with these guys [in New England], they're a lot older,” Fagundez said. “Going to Uruguay, these guys are my age and a year older, it's a lot different. It felt like I was playing again in the academy [against players my own age]. It was a different style of play. It was competitive because everyone is trying to earn their spots. Everyone is trying to see who will go to the Sudamericanos in January. It was competitive.”
Fagundez must wait and see whether he will receive a call-up for the South American Youth Championship early next year. For now, he said he plans to use the lessons he learned in his native land to fight for a place in the Revolution starting XI as the season winds to a close.
“In my head, I went and said that I need to show what I've got,” Fagundez said. “I gave it all out on the field. Now it's a waiting game. I have to see if they'll call me back or not. Right now, I just have to relax, finish the season off here and see what happens.”
Kyle McCarthy covers the New England Revolution for MLSsoccer.com.