RJ DEMELLO - Thursday, June 6, 2013
Diego Fagundez is a man, a very young man, on fire.
At 18 the young gun who moved from Uruguay when he was five has begun to light up the league with his electric play.
He currently leads the New England Revolution with five goals and is tied for second on the team with two assists. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he has started only nine and played in 10 of the Revolution's 13 games so far this year.
The young starlet thinks that the consistent run of games he has been on has helped him improve. "Consistent minutes are actually helping me get my confidence up higher and higher every time I play," Fagundez told Full Volley.
What many do not realize is that he has actually been playing out of position this whole time. Fagundez is used to playing through the middle, usually in a striker or off striker position. In Head Coach Jay Heaps' system, he has featured exclusively out wide in the midfield.
He may be young but he keeps a good attitude about the switch, "It is new to me but anywhere coach puts me I'm going to do well." And do well he certainly has, cutting in from either side to continuously put the ball in the back of the net.
The local product seems to think the adjustments to moving out towards the touchline are minimal. "Out wide the only difference is I just have to defend a little more, which I don't really mind," Fagundez explained. "I'll play right, left, doesn't matter, I just like it there because I can attack and go one on one with defenders."
He isn't lying when he talks about going one on one with defenders, notable goals such as his beauty in Houston and most recent against LA feature him at one point or another running at defenders with the ball.
The Revolution now seems to have some great depth in the attack with the addition of US national team striker Juan Agudelo in a trade with Chivas USA.
With adding another player New England has only increased the competition for spots, one Fagundez is ready for. "When you know someone new is coming in, especially that it could be for your position, you just have to work harder," Fagundez said. "Right now you need to fight with him for spots."
This battle between the attacking components on the Revolution roster is something that Heaps thinks is necessary. "We want guys to push each other, we want there to be competition there," the second year coach explained.
It is perhaps no coincidence then that since Agudelo's arrival, Fagundez has scored in four straight games. His energy and positivity clearly showing on the field as he holds on tightly to that starting position he has earned.
Yet, with the recent accolades and praise heaped on the player, the youngster keeps a cool head. "I just want to be out there and play and try to help out my team."
On the international front, Fagundez has attended U-20 camps for Uruguay but he has lived in the United States since he was five. He is still not an American citizen and he is unsure about the timeline of his immigration process. He would like to play for the United States but he is not sure if this will ever be possible.
For now, he remains entirely focuses on his blossoming young career in MLS and his potential breakout season.
With only a little more of a third of the season gone New England sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference right on the edge of a playoff spot. If Fagundez can continue his inspired play, he may just get the chance to help out his team in the postseason, a site the club has not seen since 2009.