ESPNHS is honoring 36 teen athletes this week in its 18 under 18 package. From superstars to those who inspire with their ability to overcome obstacles, they pick 18 male and 18 female athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities.
Among those being honored is 17-year-old Revolution forward Diego Fagundez.
That's all it took for the 17-year-old Diego Fagundez -- a sophomore at Leominster (Mass.) -- to prove he deserved a spot on this list. In his MLS debut for the New England Revolution against Chivas USA on Aug. 6, the Uruguay native entered in the 66th minute and almost immediately drew a penalty kick, which was converted by a teammate. In the 86th minute, he tallied his first professional goal.
Of course, those 24 minutes were really just a glimpse of the talent that convinced the Revolution to sign him as a 15-year-old. A decade earlier, Fagundez and his family moved from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Leominster. His father, Washington, played professionally in his homeland, although he was a goalkeeper and Diego is more of an attacking midfielder.
At 5-foot-8, 130 pounds, Fagundez relies on his speed and technical ability to thrive on the field. Despite his slight frame, he is not scared to mix it up with bigger players. In a game against Columbus in October, Fagundez inflicted some pain on 6-foot-4, 190-pound defender Chad Marshall, who suffered a cut and had to leave the game to receive medical attention after colliding with Fagundez as they went for a header.
Fagundez was later diagnosed with a mild concussion. That injury is behind him now, and just in time, as the MLS season is fast approaching. With a new coach at the helm for the Revolution (Jay Heaps), the 17-year-old Fagundez will look to impress in the preseason in hopes of earning more regular playing time in his second full season as a professional.