24 Under 24

New England's Diego Fagundez holding out hope for more Uruguay calls

Diego Fagundez - NE - closeup - gives thumbs up after win over CLB - 5-21-17

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Diego Fagundez has a resume -- 38 goals, 31 assists, 131 starts and a Homegrown Player contract at the age of 15 -- that once again landed the New England Revolution attacker on MLSsoccer.com’s 24 Under 24 list. The honor marks a sixth career appearance – and he’s still just 22 years old.

“There’s so many great players in this league under 24 – we all know this,” Fagundez said, after a recent practice. “So this is a product of the hard work I put in at every game, every training session. At the end of the day, someone is watching all that and it’s always nice to get recognized. There’s still a lot where I can get better, and hopefully I can climb up the list in future years.”

But getting to this point, in Fagundez’s words, has been like a “roller coaster” at times.

He truly broke out during the 2013 season, scoring 13 goals and handing seven assists. Yet he has struggled to rediscover that form, at times bobbing in and out of the starting XI’s of recently-dismissed head coach Jay Heaps.

During that signature stretch, Fagundez, who grew up in Leominster, Mass., made the decision to represent his native Uruguay. He helped La Celeste qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, becoming cap-tied since he wasn’t yet a full-fledged American citizen. Fagundez has no regrets, even though he hasn’t suited up for Uruguay in more than two years.

“It all has to do with how you’re doing in games, and right now I just need to focus on playing well and trying to score goals and help this team as much as possible,” Fagundez said. “It’s like a roller coaster with the ups and the downs, but at the end of the day you’re head still needs to be straight and you keep working hard. Hopefully, I get another call soon.”

In that very endeavor, Fagundez said he views himself as the same player as when he scored on his debut at age 16 against Chivas USA. The only difference now, he said, is he feels his defending has improved.

“I remember the first day I stepped on this field, I said to myself how this is the game where I need to make my name count,” Fagundez said. “I went out there the first game and put my name out there for everyone to see how I meant real business and I wasn’t just a 15-year-old they signed for no reason. At the end of the day, I think I accomplished what I wanted to do.”

But Fagundez isn’t satisfied with all he’s accomplished, instead noting that he hopes his career is still in its early stages.

Often linked in the rumor mill to European clubs, Fagundez said his main focus rests in winning the Revs a championship. As to the possibility of taking his career beyond the only he’s ever known? That’s a question for another time.

“Hopefully I keep becoming a better player and do whatever I can to help out this team win games and win cups,” Fagundez said. “After that, that’s something we need to talk about later on when things come up. But for right now, I keep focusing on what’s here and enjoy it.”