Revolution eliminated but Fagundez leaves mark
FOXBOROUGH - Diego Fagundez again showed he can produce goals as a professional. But the Revolution failed to take advantage of Fagundez' 35th-minute score, falling to the Seattle Sounders, 2-1, last night and being eliminated from playoff contention.
Fagundez, 16, who made his first professional start and scored his second goal of the season, was among the younger people at Gillette Stadium on a College Night promotion that drew a crowd of 21,022.
But after Fagundez scored, the Revolution allowed the Sounders (16-6-9, 57 points) to tie almost directly off the ensuing kickoff, Fredy Montero finishing a scuffed back pass from Ryan Cochrane in the 36th minute.
Montero upped the lead following a misplayed clearance in the third minute of the second half as the Revolution (5-14-12, 27 points) failed to advance to the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998-99.
"Game should've been over at halftime, we could've been 4-up at halftime," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "We made one mistake in the first half and it was a goal. The two goals are on mistakes. What do you say? It was a travesty."
The Revolution have given plenty of mediocre performances, struggling to find effective combinations. This time, though, the Revolution were in a position to succeed because of the combination of an in-synch lineup and an opponent facing a demanding schedule.
Fagundez sparked the Revolution attack in tandem with Milton Caraglio in the early going, twice going in alone on goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
His hair dyed red in Mohawk-style, Fagundez, listed at 125 pounds, looked like a high school sophomore - he will return to classes at Leominster High School tomorrow - running around with grownups. But he was strong enough to flatten central defender Patrick Ianni while challenging for a high ball and he converted in an unlikely way - heading in a Benny Feilhaber corner kick.
"People don't see him in there, I guess," Feilhaber said. "That little red Mohawk, nobody sees it, so good for him finding that spot. It's great for him, he works hard in training, keeps his head down, doesn't let the veterans get to him or anything like that. He's a good kid. Good to see him doing well. Hoping he'll do well the rest of the year because he's got a big career ahead of him."
The Revolution dominated the opening half, allowing only one Seattle shot, but they lost their edge in the second half.
Montero scored after a mis-hit clearance by A.J. Soares in the 48th minute, following a long punt from Keller.
"It was the best thing ever, starting," Fagundez said. "I was really excited. I was really not expecting it. But I guess I was working hard in practice, so I deserved it, I guess. I did pretty good while I was playing."
The Revolution attempted to rally by switching to a 3-5-2 alignment, Pat Phelan replacing Monsef Zerka in midfield, in the 68th minute. But the crisp passing and confident attacking play of the opening half disappeared.
"I guess I wasn't really getting the ball as much [in the second half]," Fagundez said. "I was going to space, checking back. I wasn't really getting the same chances I was in the first half. I was trying to go over the top and it still didn't work, so I was just trying to go for the crosses."
The Revolution have three games remaining - against San Jose Saturday, Columbus, and a visit to Toronto.
"It's kind of how the season's gone," goalkeeper Matt Reis said. "We get on top and within a couple of minutes we shoot ourselves in the foot and give them a chance to get back in. Other than the goal they really didn't have any chances.
"There's only been one or two games where we've really been outplayed, and every other game we're right into it. And a bounce here or there and we could be at the top of the Eastern Conference."
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.