FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Diego Fagundez wasn’t sure whether Fernando Cardenas was searching for him on the 94th-minute cross which led to the New England Revolution’s dramatic equalizer against Seattle Sounders FC. But the result can’t be questioned as Fagundez buried a powerful header to notch his first goal of the season and help the Revs extend their unbeaten streak to four games with a 2-2 draw.
“It was a good ball by Fernando,” said Fagundez. “He does his little moves, beat the defender, crossed it, and Saer (Sene) went near post. He was trying to go for the header, got fouled and I just followed through behind him. It was there.
“I don’t know where Fernando was going; it could have gone either way,” Fagundez added. “But we scored so that’s all that matters right now … I don’t think it’s about battle. I think it’s about whoever gets the ball first. So usually when I’m looking for that spot, I’m looking to get open instead of (trying to) hit the defender. So I’m open, at least.”
Fagundez has made a habit of getting open against Seattle. The last time the Sounders visited Gillette Stadium in October of last season, Fagundez made his first career start and similarly wriggled free to head home from a corner kick.
A diminutive stature (5-foot-8) makes Fagundez an unlikely candidate to win headers in a crowded penalty area, but clever positioning helps the 17-year-old find open spaces. It’s an innate skill teammate Benny Feilhaber has seen time and again on the training field.
“I always expect Diego to get something,” said Feilhaber. “He’s a menace in the box. Doesn’t matter how small he is, that little mohawk gets on the ball somehow. We need him out there. He’s a guy that we depend on when he gets in the game. Hopefully his confidence doesn’t shoot up too high because he’s still so young. It’s the ups and downs when you’re that young, but he’s a guy that we depend on and it’s really good for him to get that goal.”
Head coach Jay Heaps has seen Fagundez raise his game in recent weeks and it earned him his first start of the season last weekend against Toronto FC. On Saturday night, it earned him his first goal.
“He was sharp,” said Heaps. “He’s been sharp all week and he was sharp last week. He was due.”