FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A call-up to the US national team and a match against European powers Portugal will allow New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo to end 2017 on a bright note after an MLS season that left him noticeably downtrodden last month when he met local media for the final time this year.
He remarked how the early offseason feels “a little bit like deja vu,” as the Revs missed out on the postseason for the second year in a row as the seventh-place team in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s like a broken record again,” Agudelo said. “Again, we have to focus on the little things for next year and see if we could’ve come out with a point or two in games that were critical and mental lapses.”
But it was a similarly up-and-down year for the 24-year-old striker, who ended the year by scoring twice in 25 games, and not since the club’s July 29 home win over the Philadelphia Union. That all came after Agudelo opened the season with six goals in the Revs’ first nine games, and scored four goals in their final seven games of 2016.
Agudelo said he was “struggling to help my team out” as New England made another late playoff push and found himself further away from goal, leading to fewer shots.
“I had to mentally stay in it, and knew that my chances would come around if I extended the game we were going to play, which would be making the playoffs,” he said. “That was our main goal, just to get this team into the playoffs. That was everyone’s goal, but unfortunately we failed.”
On a personal level, Agudelo also experienced a Jeckyll-and-Hyde-like year on the international stage, as he rejoined the U.S. senior squad under Bruce Arena. As part of that, Agudelo won the 2017 Gold Cup. But he also was part of the roster, though didn’t make the gameday squad, when the USMNT lost to Trinidad and Tobago and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“It was a very high-altitude roller coaster,” Agudelo said, “and then it would go down and it would go right back up to that high altitude.”
So as Agudelo approaches the offseason and 2018 campaign, which will mark his eighth year as a pro, his focus rests on replicating his red-hot form to begin 2017.
“Just maintaining my body and do the same thing that I did this past preseason, nine months ago,” he said. “It worked out at the beginning of this season for me.”