Follow the Leader: Fagundez credits professional development to Goncalves

Teen phenom taking lessons from his veteran captain

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were many factors behind Diego Fagundez’s breakout 2013 season.

Most of the credit, of course, must go to Fagundez himself. The 18-year-old truly came into his own during his third year as a professional, finding a way to focus on his strengths while working to improve his weaknesses. Both on and off the field, preparation became a critical part of his approach.

Head coach Jay Heaps and his staff deserve praise, as well, for putting Fagundez in a position to succeed. The Revolution’s hybrid 4-3-3 system particularly suits Fagundez’s dynamic style, and the switch from a supporting forward role to an attacking winger consistently put him in more dangerous spots.

A strong supporting cast also provided a boost for Fagundez, who formed cohesive bonds with other young attackers like Juan Agudelo, Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe.

But when asked directly about his biggest influence, Fagundez pointed to the other end of the field, crediting a veteran player who he rarely combines with during the course of a game.

“Good players like Jose (Goncalves) teach me a lot, especially about defending,” Fagundez said. “But most important is probably how to take care of my body throughout the season, off the field. That’s all Jose just teaching me how to eat, how to work out and things to do before games. It was just nice.”

Goncalves – the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year and New England’s captain – has gained a reputation among fans and peers as the ultimate professional. From healthy eating habits to proper workout techniques, he has mastered the art of preparation. Teammates refer to him as a “beast” and a “machine.” Even a “freak.”

Ten years Fagundez’s senior at 28 years old, Goncalves has plenty of wisdom to impart on his young teammate. That fact was not lost on the Revolution, which paired Goncalves and Fagundez as roommates when the team heads on road trips. For the impressionable teenager, it’s a case of follow the leader.

“He’s a veteran; he knows what he’s doing,” Fagundez said of his captain. “It’s just a good way to keep going. Hopefully I’ll keep doing everything I can and keep learning from him.”