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Fagundez in form despite not so glamorous goals

Posted by Julian Cardillo  September 2, 2013 06:49 PM

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fagundez open mouth.jpg

(Italo Alexander Photography)

There is a phrase that is sometimes said when shots find the back of the net.

"The position he was in made it so that it was impossible not to score; I could have scored that myself," is something like how it goes.

As my college suitemates made dinner last Friday night, I sat on our common room couch watching the Revolution play Toronto on television. In the second minute, Diego Fagundez easily poked in a feed from Kelyn Rowe to put New England up 1-0. Fagundez was completely unmarked about three yards from goal and did mop up work on Rowe's effort.

My roommates chimed in after they saw Fagundez had scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season. That self-righteous, "could have scored that myself" phrase, came out.

Yes, the finish on Fagundez' goal was relatively easy. It's true that his three goals before that were easy finishes for a player of his caliber, too. One was an easy score off a sloppy back-pass in a 2-0 win at Columbus. Another was an open-net header in a 2-1 win over DC United. The last was a low drive that went into the back of the net following a breakaway in a 5-1 win against Philadelphia.

But there's more to all of those goals than just the finish. On most of those strikes, Fagundez' teammates were there to set him up for a goal. A player, even with Fagundez' skill, needs to be perfectly set up to bury an opportunity.

Furthermore, Fagundez' latest scoring tallies are a testament to his positioning rather than his finishing ability. When talking about the Revolution, Fagundez' positioning rivals that of Taylor Twellman. Finding players who have a nose for the goal, like Fagundez and Twellman, is not easy.

He had to find a seam in the defense or make a tactical decision to run into a specific area of the field to exploit his opponents. In the case of his goal against Philadelphia, he had to be in good enough shape to beat their four-man back line and turn a simple through ball from Scott Caldwell into a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

Those subtleties can be easy to miss. But my suite mates aren't the only ones giving Fagundez stick for his seemingly simple putaways.

During a postgame press conference following the Revolution's 2-1 loss to Houston on July 13, one of my colleagues asked Head Coach Jay Heaps about Diego Fagundez' form. In that game, he failed to trap a pass that would have sent him in behind Houston's defense for another "I could have scored that myself" finish. He was also riding a five-game goalless streak.

But Heaps defended his player, saying he had helped set-up another goal and was still wreaking havoc on opposing back lines.

Even the best players struggle through scoring droughts. In 2004, Twellman went 13 games without scoring a goal. In that era of MLS, that drought lasted half the season.

That Fagundez can still contribute without scoring by putting opposing back line's on their heels through quick runs and on-the-money passes is reason to believe that there's more to his play than just scoring goals.

What's more, he's deserving of the success he's had in front of goal. I've seen him at practice run across the field with a resistance parachute on his back, an exercise which increases his speed. He's told reporters that he often studies his goals to fix imperfections. He never gives up on a play. His coaches and teammates only sing his praises.

As the Revolution push for the playoffs with just eight games left in the regular season, the beauty of Fagundez' goals is irrelevant. Whether he scores is irrelevant too. What matters most is that the Revolution have player in form who can have a major impact on a game.

For the past season, Fagundez has proved that he's exactly that type of player.

If you want to reach Julian email him at julianccardillo@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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