The youngest player in MLS history to hit fifty goals, the first homegrown player to record over 10,000 minutes of first team football, the youngest player in the league’s history to hit 100 appearances and 25 goals and the youngest player in the league’s history to record 200 first team appearances, Diego Fagundez is one of New England Revolution’s most talented and exciting superstars.
An Unprecedented Rise To The Top
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay before moving to Leominster at the age of five, he was the poster boy for an emerging crop of talent from South America and was picked up by the Revs in 2009 from Greater Boston Bolts.
Fagundez became the Revs’ first ever homegrown player signed from their academy in 2010, though he did continue training with the youth teams for some time after. He made his full debut in a 3-2 victory over D.C. United in April 2011, with his first League appearance coming against Chivas in August.
Fagundez’s breakthrough season came in 2013 however, bursting into the first team regularly and netting 13 goals across the regular season, despite still being one of the youngest professionals in the game. Between 2013 and 2018, Fagundez never dropped below 33 appearances a season, registering 47 goals in that time and being named The Midnight Riders’ Man of the Year in 2017.
Falling Out Of Favour
However, a much-publicised transfer approach from Uruguayan side Nacional in January 2019 seems to have left Fagundez teetering on the verge of an exit from the Revs.
Following the subsequent revelations released by his agent and father that Fagundez had received offers from clubs in ‘Italy, Germany and England’ as well as an admission that he would like to have left prior to the 2019 season, Fagundez’s standing in the Revs roster seemed to take a hit.
Under both Brad Friedel and Bruce Arena, Fagundez seemed to suddenly be a figure that they couldn’t exactly trust as a regular starter and rely on in those clutch situations the league regularly throws up.
Competition And Contracts
As the Revs continued to defy most MLS predictions and make a surge towards this year’s postseason Play Offs, Fagundez would find himself routinely put on the bench and finishing the season with just 2 goals and 3 assists to his name, his worst return since his breakout year in 2012.
The Revs are now blessed with a wide array of impressively creative players thanks to the additions of Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou, and this increased competition for places has proven to be a tough obstacle for Fagundez to overcome under Arena.
And with speculation about transfers and high profile offers from abroad dying down following Fagundez’s quiet season, it looks like the Uruguayan and his dad might have scored a bit of an own goal.
Fagundez last signed a contract extension with the Revs in 2018 and his current contract is set to expire in January, though there is the option of extending it for a further year should the player and the club agree to that.
Contract decisions within the MLS are made prior to November 21st, but the Revs are expected to announce theirs prior to this. The decision on Fagundez will be announced then and will go a long way in exploring what the future holds for New England’s starlet.
The Bruce Arena Future
Ultimately, the future looks bright for the Revs under Bruce Arena, and there’s a lot of pressure on the veteran coach as expectations begin to rise. A close-knit and tight core group of professionals, the side rallied from a 2-8-2 opening to end the regular season with just three losses in their final 22 games and secure a first Play Off appearance since 2015.
Essential to this success was Arena’s often strange requirements of his playing team, regularly employing players out of position in order to convey his message. Juan Agudelo and Fagundez, both heavily attacking players in most sides, were regularly employed as defensive midfielders under Arena throughout the season.
Whilst it brought a decent amount of success on the field, even Arena spoke of the lack of enjoyment certain players can feel when being played out of position:
“Guys have been very cooperative and fit into roles that sometimes are not their typical roles and maybe not even that pleasing to them. But they’ve done whatever is necessary to help the team.”
If we are to read between the lines, we could conclude that morale might not be at its highest for the likes of Fagundez. With several Revs players recently coming out and speaking about their excitement about working under Arena in 2020, the Uruguayan was not present and did not issue a statement.
An Expected Farewell?
Whilst most Revs fans appreciate, applaud and fondly remember the work and contributions he has put into the club, this does feel like the end of the road for Fagundez at New England. At one time the poster boy for local sport and MLS football on the whole, it’s a sad state of affairs looking at where the Uruguyan’s career has spiralled over the last twelve months.
One of the club’s top earners, it is almost non-sensical keeping hold of a player who is not in the manager’s plans, isn’t enjoying their football when they do get on the pitch and burning through substantial resources just sat on the bench week in week out. Having turned out 261 times, scored 54 goals and committed 8 years of time helping develop the side into what it is today, now might be the perfect time for the 24 year old to freshen up his career elsewhere.