FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was an experience that he will cherish for a lifetime, but Diego Fagundez’s trip to Peru to play for the Uruguay Under-20 national team does not eliminate future chances of him playing for the US national team.
The 19-year-old Revolution winger, a US permanent resident born in Uruguay, recently made his second trip to play for the country of his birth – he made a similar one in 2012, but was not named to the Uruguay squad for either the 2013 South American Youth Championship or the 2013 U-20 World Cup. But he said it has no lasting effect on his international future.
“That’s the best part,” Fagundez said about his opportunities. “It’s not that my doors are closed. My doors are open. If anything could happen, then that’s something that we can talk about.”
The road to playing with Uruguay is a more solid bet at this point, since Fagundez simply needs to get on a plane and join the squad wherever they may be playing in the world.
Already an accomplished professional, he could be an important part of the U-20 squad for Uruguay, which will host the 2015 South American Youth Championship from Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 2015. That event serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2015 Pan American Games, the 2015 U-20 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
While US assistant coach Tab Ramos told The Boston Globe that US Soccer would like to have Fagundez as part of its program, Fagundez, who moved to the United States at age 5, did not become a permanent resident until Oct. 2013. That means that, barring a change in circumstances, he will not be eligible to even apply for US citizenship until Oct. 2018, and the process itself would take additional time.
“I don’t know how long that might take,” said Fagundez. “The process is in there, and it’s just a matter of if they speed it up or not. It’s just waiting and seeing what happens. I have no idea where that process is, so I have no information right now at all.”
Players are only eligible to switch nationalities after representing their old country in a FIFA youth event if they were eligible for their new country at the time.
So for now, Fagundez's international future remains with Uruguay, and he did see plenty of field time in Uruguay’s two friendlies against Peru last week, playing 45 minutes in the team’s 1-0 loss, then playing a full 90 in a 1-1 draw. Despite being the new face in the locker room, he was welcomed wholeheartedly by the group.
“They’ve been playing with each other for a long time, so of course I come in and I’m the new guy on the team,” said Fagundez. “I have to remember everyone’s names, and they only have to remember one. There were hands opened, they welcomed me very well, and it was a fun experience overall.”
Now back in New England, Fagundez is redirecting all of his attention back to his club.
“We know it’s going to be tough these last 12 games,” Fagundez said. “Right now, I’m focusing on the Revs. That trip has already passed, and I came here to try and finish the year well and do everything we can to make the playoffs.”