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Monday, May 20, 2013
Agudelo impresses in first Revs game

By Brian O'Connell

He may not have scribbled his name on the scoresheet during his club’s surprising 2-0 win over the Dynamo on Saturday, but that didn’t stop new Revolution striker Juan Agudelo from making a favorable first impression.

Agudelo, who arrived in a trade from Chivas USA on May 7, flourished in his Revolution debut to point the club towards a convincing road victory at BBVA Compass Stadium.

“It was awesome, getting to know the guys, playing with the guys,” Agudelo told the media after Saturday’s game. “It’s awesome playing in front of a guy like Lee [Nguyen]. I was just receiving and getting great balls.”

Although his introduction had been hastened by Ryan Guy’s calf injury just after the half-hour mark, Agudelo, who entered the game in the 35th minute, was ready to do whatever he could to get the Revolution on the board.

Initially, Agudelo was stationed behind forward Dimitry Imbongo in a 4-4-2 formation, a role that required him to provide support to the second-year striker. But when Imbongo was issued a straight red card in the 40th minute, the talented 20-year-old was quickly called upon to spear the attack himself.

“When [Imbongo] goes off, Juan is such a versatile player that we just shifted him further up top, we were able to move Juan Toja wide,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps told the media after the game. “For us, we didn’t have to maneuver as much as they did by taking Ricardo Clark out of the midfield.”

As the game progressed, Agudelo’s attacking instincts became even more evident. In the 51st minute, he, Clyde Simms and Diego Fagundez worked a dazzling passing sequence that helped set up Fagundez for the opening goal.

“It all started with Juan,” Fagundez told the media after Saturday’s game. “Juan got the ball wide and then he gave it to me. I gave it back to Lee and he gave it back to me and I just saw Clyde on the top of the eighteen so I gave him a pass. I followed through it and then he did a beautiful lay-off where I could just touch it around the defender and get a goal.”

But Agudelo was far from calling it a night at that point. Even though he was coming off a hamstring injury that had shelved him for the past month, the new Revolution striker remained relentless in the waning stages and nearly capped his debut with a goal.

On a counterattack in the 84th minute, Agudelo grabbed a pass from Lee Nguyen, then backheeled it wide to an unmarked Chris Tierney. Although Tally Hall denied Tierney’s shot, the rebound was was up for grabs after Adam Moffat tipped it up. Agudelo positioned himself well to bring it down, then pushed the ball off of Clark before it fell into the Dynamo net for what was ruled an own goal.

“I saw that the defender wasn’t really looking at me,” Agudelo said. “So I just put my body in the way and tried to get anything that I could on it and put it toward the net.”

Agudelo’s effort not only gave the Revolution a welcome cushion before the final whistle, but it also won him praise from his head coach.

“I thought Juan was great,” Heaps said. “I thought Juan did a nice job of holding the ball. He was getting grabbed and pulled and pushed and he didn’t lose his focus and held on for some good plays. Not only that, but he kept it for us in some really tight spots, difficult areas.”