Sunday, August 7, 2011
Revs lose, but Fagundez strikes gold
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Forget the fact that the Revs' first-ever Designated Player Milton Caraglio made his debut Saturday night. In fact, you can even forget that the Revs lost 3-2 to Chivas USA.
The stage belonged to 16-year-old Diego Fagundez, who not only became the first Revs Homegrown Player to make his MLS debut, but also scored a brilliant goal 20 minutes into the game (check out the video above).
“We had planned to play him at some stage today,” Revolution manager Steve Nicol said. “It was a no-brainer to bring him on. He did a fantastic job.”
Diego Fagundez, 16, scored a goal in his debut with the Revs at Gillette on Saturday.
Not that it was entirely unexpected. The Leominster, Mass., native, who lit up the 2010-11 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season with 21 goals and 15 assists, earned a spot on the senior team bench after the Development season concluded.
In each game, the teenager watched his older teammates from the bench, catching a glimpse of MLS action from a safe distance.
But on Saturday night, with the Revs down two goals and desperate to get one on the board before it was too late, Nicol decided it was time to give the 5-foot-8, 125-pound teenager a look against players much older and stronger. It was a call that caught the kid by surprise.
“Right there, I was like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe this,' " Fagundez said. “[I was] really excited when he told me that. [The] first thing I thought was ‘I’m going to have to try and help the team score a goal.’ ”
And that’s exactly what Fagundez did on one of his very first touches of the game. With the Revs down 2-0, Fagundez masterfully set up the Revs’ first goal of the game only two minutes into his MLS debut.
“Benny slapped the ball to me and I faked the pass into the middle,” Fagundez said. “I just took the [defender] and he just caught me from behind and I just went down.”
Referee Mark Kadlecik pointed to the spot immediately, and seconds later Shalrie Joseph blasted it by Dan Kennedy to give the Revs life with just over 20 minutes to go.
While Chivas USA reclaimed their two-goal cushion minutes later when Alejandro Moreno beat Matt Reis in the 80th minute, the fireworks for Fagundez were far from over.
With the Revs down 3-1 in the final minutes of regulation, Kevin Alston launched a long ball toward Fagundez, who grabbed it, turned his defender and unleashed a brilliant shot that squeaked inside the post to make it a one-goal game.
“As soon as I saw the ball go into the net, I was like ‘Oh my God,' " Fagundez said.
“The first thing I did [after] is do a heart [hand symbol] to my family in the club seats,” he said.
Although the defeat was tough to take for the Revs, whose record dropped to 4-10-9 (21 points), the bright spot was clearly Fagundez’s impressive showing before the home crowd.
And while it would be tempting to pencil the youngster’s name into the starting lineup, Nicol said he isn’t convinced that Fagundez is ready for a full 90.
“It’s all timing,” Nicol said. “Things were settled for him tonight and we were obviously getting everything forward. So it was a good time for him to come on.”
Nevertheless, Nicol, who said that Fagundez had a “footballer’s brain,” was impressed with his talented teenager, especially in light of the work that the youngster has put into training during the past three weeks.
“He’s doing all he can to get into the game,” Nicol said. “It was obviously a great night for him.”
Even though Fagundez had a dream start to his MLS career, the youngest member of the team wasn’t about to concede that he’s earned a spot in the Revs’ starting XI.
“I don’t know,” Fagundez said of getting a spot in the lineup. “I’m going to keep working hard and see what happens.”
-- At 16-years-old, Fagundez became the youngest player in Revolution history to score a goal. In fact, he became the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history, with only Freddy Adu scoring his first MLS goal at a younger age (14).
-- Shalrie Joseph’s 69th-minute goal was his team-leading seventh of the season, as well as his fourth from the penalty spot.
-- With the loss, the Revs' record at home against Chivas USA dropped to 4-2-1 all-time, with the Revs dropping their last two contests against the Goats at Gillette Stadium.
-- For the second time this season, Chivas scored three goals against the Revs. On April 30, the Goats throttled the Revs at The Home Depot Center, 3-0.
-- Saturday night’s match concludes the regular-season series between the Revs and Chivas. The Revs went 0-2-0 against the Goats, and marked the second consecutive year that they have have dropped the season series.
-- For the second straight game, Alejandro Moreno scored against the Revs. During the April 30 game, Moreno tallied in the 57th minute for the Goats' third goal of the game. On Saturday night, Moreno scored in the 31st and 80th minutes to lead the Goats to victory.
-- The Revs' loss ended their three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2), and also marked the second straight home game that they allowed their opponent to score three goals against them.
-- Striker Rajko Lekic, who had started the last 17 games for the Revs, sat out Saturday night’s match due to a toe injury.
-- Four days after the announcement of his signing, the Revs' first-ever designated player, Milton Caraglio, made his MLS debut. Wearing the number 9, the 22-year-old Argentinian played 62 minutes and launched two shots, with one on frame.
-- With the loss, the Revs' record drops to 4-10-9, and ensures that the Revs will finish with a double-digit loss total for the fourth straight season. Last year, the Revs went 9-16-5, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
-- With starting center back A.J. Soares out due to red-card suspension, Ryan Cochrane filled in for the rookie defender.
-- With the loss, the Revs’ home record drops below .500, with their record at Gillette Stadium standing at 3-4-4.
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.