FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The plot to place Diego Fagundez in dangerous positions starts well before the New England midfielder steps on the field.\
Fagundez and Revolution coach Jay Heaps discuss exactly where the versatile attacking player should pick up his positions at the outset of a match. The 18-year-old usually features on either flank, but he can move further forward or retreat back into midfield a bit to find space in the early stages of a game depending on the situation.
“We like to show him where we think he can take advantage of it,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “As the game happens, you see exactly what the other team is doing and what is going on that night. Circumstances change throughout the course of a match. That's where Diego is at his best, when he's being intuitive and instinctive and seeing where he can change the game on his own.”
It is a matter of feel rather than direction, according to Fagundez. He wants to put himself into areas where he can use his pace and his trickery to unsettle defenders. In order to do that, he communicates with his partner on the other flank and occasionally slides over to the opposite side to ensure he creates the best possible matchup.
In an ideal world, the match provides him with plenty of opportunity to collect the ball in space and pounce on opportunities in the final third.
“You have a lot of freedom playing outside,” Fagundez said. “One thing I like is that when you're going at defenders, you're going at them face to face. I don't have my back to goal. It helps me beat them with my speed. Once I'm going at them with my speed, it's tough for them to get at me.”
Fagundez's recent production since shifting to the wide areas – including a run of three goals in his past three outings – and sorting out his starting positions suggests the plans are starting to take hold, according to Heaps.
“I like that he's in a little bit of a hybrid role,” Heaps said. “It's difficult to put a set position on him. He's finding the channels well. He's finding his role inside as well. For me, he can play in a lot of different positions for us when we attack the way we attack.”