The result placed the Revs eight points out of playoff position, with a meager 20 points from 19 games played. Plus, a similar script unfolded: Score early, come out of halftime a different team, squander the lead and succumb to defeat.
But through those dire straits, a glimmer of hope did surface: Diego Fagundez, a seven-year veteran in New England, refusing to let their 2017 season go quietly into the night. His impact against New York was so profound, in fact, that part of Jesse Marsch’s formation change in the second half was geared towards limiting the 22-year-old midfielder.
“He's clever and sharp with the way he moves,” Marsch said. “He's always given us trouble and has a good way of unbalancing us. We'll look at some video, we'll keep thinking – one of the reasons why we even changed was to try and take care of the wings a little bit more and support things, so that guys like him weren't just running free and slipping by guys.”
Fagundez did just that the first half against the Red Bulls. He assisted Teal Bunbury’s opener in the 21st minute and slalomed through New York’s backline before Lee Nguyen’s strike in the 26th minute, setting up a tap-in for the Revs captain.
Each time, as Fagundez is wont to do, he cut in, dribbled past several defenders and served as the catalyst for the Revs' attacking verve.
“He's doing well and that's what we need from him,” Nguyen said. “We need it from everyone. He's putting in a great individual performance, and he's going to need to continue to do that if we're going to have a chance going forward.”
As Nguyen hinted, Fagundez could prove indispensable if the Revs are to dig themselves out of a hole this summer. They’re riding the stormy waters of a four-game losing streak, a stretch in which they've been outscored 10-3.
While general manager Michael Burns told MLSsoccer.com reinforcements could be on the way, Fagundez has even more of the burden on his shoulders with Kelyn Rowe and Juan Agudelo off at US national team camp. Meanwhile, striker Kei Kamara has just one goal in his last seven games.
Despite all that, Fagundez insisted that even he can, and must, perform at a higher level for the Revs to reverse their fortunes.
“We have to do better – and we keep saying we need to do better, but we’re not showing it on the field yet. And I think that’s where we’re struggling right now, including myself,” said the New England Homegrown. “I need to find more of the ball when I can, but right now this is when big teams step it up. So it's a quick turnaround now and we all have to think of what to do to get better.”
Sage remarks from a player who has four goals and five assists in 2017, placing him on track to rival his electric form from 2013.
Revs head coach Jay Heaps stressed that it can’t just be Fagundez stepping up. Rather, the collective needs to dig deep.
“[Diego has] been awesome for us,” Heaps said. “Basically, singlehandedly created the goal in the first half and I thought he played really well. But I think we’ve got to get more guys playing with that kind of passion and energy right now.”