FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Diego Fagundez visited Uruguay while on family vacation last November.
Now the 17-year-old is heading back on business.
On Sunday, Fagundez will head to Montevideo, where he’ll join up with the Uruguay Under-20 National Team for a six-day training camp running from Oct. 7 through Oct. 12. Uruguay’s U20s will play a pair of friendly matches against Chile’s Under-20 side during the camp, which will take place while Uruguay’s full national team prepares for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Argentina (Oct. 12) and Bolivia (Oct. 16).
“I always looked up to Uruguay’s national team like (Diego) Forlan, (Luis) Suarez, (Edinson) Cavani, all those players,” said Fagundez, whose family moved from Uruguay to Leominster, Mass., when he was five years old. “Even being at the complex with them but not playing with them is going to be something special.”
Fagundez won’t miss any MLS action while on international duty as he’ll depart after this weekend’s meeting with the Philadelphia Union and return well before the Revolution’s home finale against the Chicago Fire. The timing of the call-up weighed heavily in the decision to release Fagundez, whose role with the Revs has increased significantly in recent weeks.
“I think it’s good for him to get international exposure at the right time; he’s not missing first team action to do it,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “I think where we’re at it would’ve been a tough one to send him to the U20 camp when he would’ve been playing first team minutes, but because we have the international weekend, it fits in perfectly for him to get some exposure and some experience.”
While the decision to release Fagundez to join Uruguay’s U20s was straightforward, the youngster’s choice to accept the invitation wasn’t as clear-cut. Although not an American citizen, Fagundez has lived in the United States since early childhood and has even represented the U.S. at both the Under-14 and Under-15 levels.
Speculation persists as to which country Fagundez could eventually represent as a full international – the upcoming U20 camp doesn’t tie him to Uruguay – but at the present moment the teenager is simply seizing an opportunity he’s dreamt about for years.
“It’s hard because I played for the youth U.S. team and I’ve been wanting to play for either one,” Fagundez said. “It didn’t matter which one, I just wanted to play for one national team. Uruguay just came up and offered the chance for me to go play two friendlies. It was a hard decision, so I just took it and now I have to go with it and see how it goes.”
How those experiences play out could ultimately determine the path of Fagundez’s national team future, but right now the dynamic attacker is focused primarily on the short term. As such, he’s simply savoring the chance to begin taking the next step in his professional career at the upcoming camp.
“Just going and putting on a national team jersey,” said Fagundez, “I think that’s going to be the best part of it.”