CLUB: New England Revolution
YEARS PRO: 7
A quick, inventive attacker blessed with versatility and strong technique, Diego Fagundez is one of the most experienced players on the 24 Under 24 list as well as one of the most successful MLS Homegrowns to date. Signed as New England's first Homegrown Player in November 2010, the Uruguay-born, Massachusetts-reared talent is the youngest player in league history to notch 100 appearances and 25 goals, and has to date scored 38 goals and 31 assists in MLS. He's also the first Homegrown to log 10,000 minutes in MLS play.
Though usually deployed out wide, Fagundez can work in a variety of advanced positions. After floating in and out of the Revs' lineup early in his career, he became a regular during a 2013 campaign that earned him team MVP honors and was pivotal in New England's run to the 2014 MLS Cup. Linked to high-profile European clubs over the years, he's also represented Uruguay at the youth international levels. His 2017 season has reflected the Revs' wider struggles, with his productivity lagging compared to his previous highs.
What the technical staffers say:
"Diego’s a guy who just seems like has been in the league forever. And then you look at his age and he’s still not even in his prime. He’s a guy I feel like always gets mentioned that he’s due to have a breakout year. But you look at his stats and he’s already [broken] out. He scores goals, he’s dangerous, he gets assists — a guy you have to gameplan for. If you were to give one criticism I would say there are moments in some games where he’ll disappear for 15-20 minutes. … He’s probably a guy who could maybe do well with a change of scenery, to see him on a team like a Toronto or a Seattle where he has even more quality around him and can go to a whole ’nother level.
“He’s one of those guys that is very fast with the ball. You can stop him on the dribble nine times but he’s gonna get it again and go at you a 10th time. He has that ability to go 1 v. 1. He’s comfortable going inside or outside. He can really set you up. He has a deceptive shot and he gets it off pretty quick. He’s a guy who it isn’t really a one-person job to shut down, it’s a multiple-person job.”
“You forget he’s still under 24 because he was put in a position where he was playing a major role very young. That’s good and bad. He’s in that stage now where he’s no longer a young player where he hasn’t played an you’re wondering what he’s gonna do. You’re now expecting more production because he’s in his prime now and he’s played enough where nobody’s thinking about his age. … He’s pretty good at playing and moving. He can smack a ball. He’s technical. With him, what’s the future gonne be? How much upside is there?
“He’s been in a comfort zone. Everyone’s kinda waiting for a little more. Initially, it was like ‘Wow, this kid’s gonna be great. … With Fagundez, you’re worried because he has the talent and has shown he can score goals but he just hasn’t shown the consistency.”