Diego Fagundez is proving time and time again that he should be starting for the Revolution. On Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls, the Leominster, Mass. native made his fifth start of the season and scored in the 54th minute in front of 16,440 at Gillette Stadium.
From both his attitude and his play on the field, it doesn't seem as though Revolution coach Jay Heaps will be taking away his starting position any time soon.
"I just came with an energy to come play and show that I should be starting," said Fagundez after the game. "I'm going to be here every game proving and getting better and better and just take it from there."
Unfortunately for Fagundez, his goal wasn't a game-winner. The Revolution blew a lead for the second consecutive game, allowing New York's Lloyd Sam to equalize just 68 seconds after he scored. Still, Fagundez' second goal of the season earned him the honor of match MVP.
Fagundez, who is still 18, has asserted himself as one of the team's deadliest scoring threats. He leads the gun-shy Revolution offense with two goals, and continues to improve and gain confidence every time he steps on the field.
""The little man had a heck of a night," said Heaps of Fagundez' performance against New York.
"He’s hungry. He’s been in and out of our lineup and I’m pushing him for more and more. I think you are seeing him become a more complete, two-way player. I think the goals are going to come because of how he is creating."
Fagundez had six shots against New York, half of the Revolution's total scoring chances. His goal in the 54th minute came off a corner kick from Chris Tierney that he volleyed off the gloves of New York goalkeeper Luis Robles. The ball bounced back to Fagundez and he poked his rebound into the goal to give the Revolution the one-goal advantage.
"Diego is surprisingly crafty in terms of finding the right spot," explained Tierney. "He’s obviously one of the smallest players on the field, but he’s got great instincts. He’s always on the move in the box, which all good goal scorers [do]."
"His positioning is great. You see him getting in those little pockets he got in, between their back four and their midfield. When Diego is on, he’s tough to defend. When he’s playing like he did [Saturday], we got to keep getting the ball in good spots."
Fagundez' five other chances at goal weren't that far off, either. After New York tied the game, Fagundez had two chances that nearly restored the Revolution's lead.
In the 80th minute, He fired a point-blank shot off a Tierney cross from the left flank that Robles barely reacted in time to save. Fagundez had the game's last chance too, firing a lay-off from Ryan Guy inches over the crossbar late in second half stoppage time.
"As soon as that ball went to Ryan, I did my little run up around. Ryan just played the ball a little hard but that's the only way that I would have had it. I just put my foot on it thinking I could get it to the goal but it went over. It was just a good pass by Ryan, [I] just needed to be clinical."
While he only tallied once on Saturday the goal he did score was key, as it allowed the Revolution to pick up at least one point in their journey up the Eastern Conference Standings. It also helped the Revolution maintain their 11-0-6 unbeaten record at home against the Red Bulls, which dates back to June 29, 2002.
Fagundez will have plenty more opportunities to score. Heaps and the Revolution staff have been touting Fagundez' skill since he signed a professional contract in 2010. He re-signed last month and there appears to be nowhere for him to go but up.
"He’s going to create more by being more involved in the offense," finished Heaps. "I like that about Diego. His awareness tactically [is[ natural, but it’s his two-way play that shows me he is ready for the next level."
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