TUCSON, Ariz. – Conceding a pair of late goals to slip into the Desert Diamond Cup consolation game put a damper on Wednesday night’s group stage finale against Real Salt Lake, but New England Revolution fans will be buoyed by an occasionally electric performance from young Diego Fagundez.
The 18-year-old Homegrown talent was at his best on the Revolution’s opening goal in the 50th minute. After expertly controlling Andrew Farrell’s long diagonal pass, Fagundez raced down the left wing, rounded his defender and crossed for Andy Dorman to finish from close range.
“Diego’s done brilliant to get to the byline,” said Dorman. “He said he picked his head up and saw somebody coming into the box. Fortunately for me, he found me a couple yards out. He did most of the hard work.”
At times this preseason, Fagundez has found himself playing with his back to goal, which isn’t the slight 5-foot-8 attacker’s forte. But on Wednesday night Fagundez more often drifted out wide to receive the ball, providing the chance to run at defenders on the dribble.
“I like to get the ball and go at people one-on-one instead of playing with my back to goal,” Fagundez said. “When [head coach Jay Heaps] put me out wide, I felt more comfortable because I kept getting the ball and taking it one-on-one.”
On one notable play in the 80th minute, Fagundez kick-started a Revolution counterattack when he received the ball under pressure in the defensive third and delivered a stunning cross-field pass to Dimitry Imbongo, setting his teammate free down the opposite wing. It’s those types of quick reactions Heaps wants to see on a more regular basis as Fagundez could play a key role for the Revs in 2013.
“He was really good,” Heaps said. “Diego came out and showed some good flashes. We want to get him moving the ball a little bit quicker. Right off the start he moved well, but as the game went on, we need to get him playing quicker, one and two touch.”