FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Between a brief weather delay scare, new signing Gustavo Bou’s dream debut, and a relatively comfortable clean sheet, there were no shortage of storylines as the New England Revolution rolled past Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4-0, on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium.
While there were plenty of goals - including Bou’s first-ever for New England - one that really made a difference for the hosts was from Diego Fagundez, who came off the bench to replace ‘La Pantera’ and double the Revs’ lead to 2-0 in the 82nd minute, and ultimately open the floodgates for the team to finish out the game strong.
“I think when you come off the bench, that’s the first thing you want to do is bring energy [and] bring a spark to the team,” said Fagundez. “When I have my chances, I try to do everything I can to help out.
“Today, I was trying to look for a goal for sure, and I was trying to take some shots. [Cristian] Penilla definitely gave a great cross, and all I had to do was put my head on it and make sure it went in. It was perfect because it was a way to try to finish off the team.”
Sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena in particular mentioned that he wanted Fagundez to bring energy when he came in with just over 10 minutes left to play, and he did just that.
“Diego’s been real good for us over the last couple weeks. Both [him and Penilla] would like to be playing the full 90 minutes every game, but to have that kind of mentality to come off the bench and contribute, and get goals was great. I think they did an outstanding job.”
It was Fagundez’s first goal of the 2019 campaign as he buried Penilla’s cross with a powerful header, and he's now tied with former Revs player Lee Nguyen for the second-most goals scored in Revolution history (51). Fagundez has historically heated up once he begins to score, and now that his first of the year is under his belt, his rediscovered confidence may just help elevate future performances.
“I needed this one,” said Fagundez. “I’ve been working hard in training and it’s one of those things that when you’re not playing a lot, the balls don’t really go in your way, and today I got lucky, and I finally got one. I think this is the day I can say, maybe, more will come.
“I know before the first one is always the hard one for me. Now I just need to keep looking forward and keep working hard and make sure when I get opportunities like this to try to go in the game and change them.”
Fagundez’s teammates were proud of the spark that he was able to provide the squad.
“I’m very happy for him,” said captain Carles Gil through an interpreter. “The truth is, I think he scored a great goal tonight and he’s a great player that scores a lot of goals. Generally, I’m really happy for him and I’m sure he’s going to continue to do great things for us.”
The Revs will have a quick turnaround to try to stretch their current nine-game unbeaten run into double digits on Sunday, when they play at expansion side FC Cincinnati for the first time. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., and with the confidence the team has gained from this 4-0 shutout performance against Vancouver, it will be an Eastern Conference battle that you won’t want to miss.