FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The unfamiliar sight of Diego Fagundez on the New England Revolution sideline is a bit unsettling for a club still looking to gain an upper hand on offense this season.
So when the team’s leading scorer from a year ago was substituted at halftime of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire, the proverbial red flag was raised.
On Tuesday his coach gave reason for that flag to be lowered.
“His was an issue of high back tightness,” coach Jay Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “Unfortunately, it was inhibiting the way he played. He was in a lot of pain, so we took him out.”
Heaps confirmed that Fagundez would be a go for training this week, chalking Saturday’s substitution up to an issue that Fagundez entered the match with.
“He went into that game with the knock,” said Heaps. “Unfortunately it never really loosened up for him and he never really could recover.”
It’s not that Fagundez is immune to the occasional substitution. But prior to Saturday’s match, the Revolution’s wunderkind had been removed before the 80th minute just six times in his 33 starts over the past year.
Since becoming a full-time starter late in 2012, he has become an integral part of the team’s attack – even more so as they continue to look to establish some consistent scoring this season.
“He’s always a dangerous option up top,” midfielder Lee Nguyen told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “He’s always constantly moving so it’s tough for opposing defenses to get a read on him. We miss that from him when he’s off the pitch.
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“It’s great if Diego can play the whole game, but if not we do have guys who can come in and help us out a lot.”
The team remains positive that the 19-year-old midfielder, who was scheduled to take part in a full scrimmage Tuesday afternoon, would bounce back quickly.
As with any injury, Fagundez will be evaluated as the week plays out. If he is able to shake the tightness and get back to form, then he can be expected to return to his normal, 90-minute self when the Revs host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).