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Fagundez slated to start

Revolution tab 16-year-old striker

Diego Fagundez hopes to put his best foot forward tonight against the Sounders. Diego Fagundez hopes to put his best foot forward tonight against the Sounders. (George Rizer/For The Globe)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / October 1, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Diego Fagundez has displayed a knack for sparking the Revolution attack off the bench. Now, he has a chance to show his ability as a starter.

Fagundez, 16, has been training with the first team and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Seattle Sounders at Gillette Stadium.

“He’s looked sharp, he’s done well when he’s come on in games,’’ coach Steve Nicol said.

Fagundez scored in his professional debut as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA Aug. 6. He helped set up the Revolution’s second goal at Chicago last Sunday, another 3-2 loss.

But Nicol has attempted to be selective in using Fagundez, who is listed at 5 feet 8 inches, 125 pounds.

“Obviously, [because of] his build,’’ Nicol said. “But he’s smart and he’s wily. His brain, as well - he just tries to play the game and that’s it. It’s not something he thinks about.

“We want to make sure we look after him, but it’s not something he’s thinking about. He just wants to play. I think that’s important. It’s important with everybody, especially with somebody in his [situation]. But at the same time, he’s shown all the indications that he deserves to play.’’

Fagundez has played in five games, including the US Open Cup, but for just 19 minutes with Milton Caraglio, his likely strike partner tonight.

“I’ll definitely be ready,’’ Fagundez said after practice yesterday. “I have a whole day to think about it and relax.’’

Asked about nervous tension, Fagundez replied, “Probably just before playing, but I don’t get nervous. Since I was little I’ve been like that.

“Every time I go in I’m trying to help out the team, if we’re winning or losing, that’s something I like to do. I try to get a result when I’m in. I just have so much energy when I’m playing that even if I play five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, doesn’t matter.

“I just give it all, 100 percent. Even if I’m tired, cramping, I’m still going to just keep going all the way to the end.’’

Fagundez used his quickness and skill to outmaneuver Chivas defenders in setting up a goal and scoring in the Aug. 6 match. Against Chicago, a Fagundez-Caraglio combination led to a Ryan Guy goal, after Fagundez had tangled briefly with 28-year-old defender Gonzalo Segares.

“I got him late but he shouldn’t be grabbing my foot right at the end,’’ Fagundez said of Segares. “So I got kind of mad and I was going to step up and just push him back, so I did. I was going to show him, it doesn’t matter how my size is, I’m still going to come back after you.’’

Fagundez signed a three-year contract before the season, but his practice time was limited while he attended classes at Leominster High School.

Now, Fagundez is on a modified schedule at the high school, training with the Revolution in the morning, going to school in the afternoon.

“It is a challenge but it is everything I was expecting to do, playing and getting better in practices, working hard,’’ Fagundez said.

“Offseason, I’m going to keep playing, practicing with the academy, doing something, just because I don’t want to lose my fitness. I’ll do some lifting to get a little bit bigger, but not too much.’’

Asked if opponents underestimated Fagundez, Nicol said, “I hope they do. We don’t, we know what he’s got and what he’s capable of. And we also know what he’s got to get better at. But some of the tools he does have are good things.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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