FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Juan Agudelo felt like he made the transition from “new guy” to full-fledged member of the New England Revolution during his 55-minute debut this past weekend at BBVA Compass Stadium.
It wasn’t just the fact that Agudelo stepped onto the field with his new teammates for the first time. For sure, any appearance would’ve been a boost in the adjustment process. But grinding out a hard-fought 2-0 road win over the Houston Dynamo in one of the league’s most difficult away venues added a galvanizing effect for Agudelo.
“I think this is huge for a new player to come in and get a win like this and be a part of it,” he said. “Today I feel so much closer to the guys. We fought together as a team and as a unit and we came out with a win here, which is not easy.”
Agudelo played a key role in the victory, including forcing Ricardo Clark into a late own goal to give the Revs some insurance in what was at that point a one-goal game. The 20-year-old striker also earned praise from head coach Jay Heaps for his versatility and holdup play as he battled Houston’s physical backline.
“I thought Juan was great,” said Heaps. “Juan did a nice job of holding the ball. He was getting grabbed and pulled and pushed, (but he) didn’t lose his focus and held on for some good plays. Not only that, but he kept it for us in really tight spots, difficult areas. I’m just excited to have him out there and doing well for us.”
Agudelo entered the game in the 35th minute when Ryan Guy went down injured and put in a longer shift than anticipated, showing his versatility by playing on the wing until Dimitry Imbongo’s ejection forced a shift up top.
The extended appearance in the Houston heat tested Agudelo’s stamina as he returned after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, but it also allowed for additional time to develop on-field relationships with many of his teammates.
“It was awesome getting to know the guys, playing with the guys,” Agudelo said. “It’s awesome playing in front of a guy like Lee (Nguyen). I was just receiving and getting great balls. What I love is that vision that our midfielders have for our forwards.”
While Agudelo did speak a bit about what his debut meant to him personally, he was more eager to look at the situation from a team perspective.
After all, he now feels like one of the guys.
“It’s a lot of momentum right now,” Agudelo said. “We’re getting toward the middle of the season and the playoffs are getting closer and closer. It’s huge to win this away game. We have [three] home games coming up and hopefully we can make a push to be on the top of the league.”