No Controversy as Nguyen takes Revolution PK

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Although Fagundez was interested in taking the last minute PK, the teenager recognizes the importance of having a designated penalty taker.

With moments left in the game, Teal Bunbury hit a long ball that wasn't meant to do much more than neutralize the danger that followed a Sporting KC corner kick. A chance materialized, however, when Charlie Davies played a pass to Diego Fagundez after fighting off Seth Sinovic. The teenager sprinted towards goal only to have his first attempt blocked by goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. Now behind the netminder, Fagundez was afforded a second opportunity, which was stopped by Oriol Rosell's hand.

"I saw an opening near post and then the goalie closed up really good," Fagundez remembers. "So the only thing I had was a chip and when I chipped it the ball lobbed up and I was trying to go for the goal [but] hand ball."

With referee Alan Kelly pointing to the penalty spot, Fagundez grabbed the ball and made a plea to take the kick. The New England Revolution were already up a goal and a successful penalty would surely secure three points.

"I wanted it," Fagundez said. "I was feeling confident. I wanted to get my confidence going by scoring that."

Fagundez had a breakout season last year, accumulating 13 goals and seven assists in 31 appearances. Although he has had opportunities, this season has been frustrating for the Massachusetts native as he is now eight games in with no goals and one assist.

Despite this, Fagundez's request to take the penalty wasn't fulfilled as head coach Jay Heaps determined that designated taker Lee Nguyen should be the one to face off against Kronberg.

"They looked over to me, and I always give them the signal," Heaps said. "Lee Ngyuen has been taking them all year really well and I think in a different score line, maybe we give it to a different kicker. But tonight, a 1-0 match in the 90th minute, we're giving it to our natural PK taker."

Before Saturday, Nguyen had taken five Revolution penalties with four going into the back of the net. Nguyen satisfied the task last week when he narrowly beat Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson with his right-sided drive.

On Thursday, Nguyen was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet's State of the Revs about the art of taking a PK. Although he was blunt about his tactics, the crafty midfielder left Kronberg motionless when he went to the left side.

"It's always a mental game, but that's the best part about it," Nguyen said. "Obviously I know where I'm going so I have the edge."

The decision to have Nguyen take the penalty could have been influenced by last weekend's game against the Fire where there was some controversy about who would take the last minute penalty. Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee and Luis Anangono each had an argument for taking the kick. With Magee missing one on April 5th and Larentowicz stepping aside, Anangono, who had earned the call, stepped up to the spot. The designated player made a weak attempt on goal that was easily saved by Bobby Shuttleworth.

Although Fagundez was interested in taking the penalty, he recognizes the importance of having a designated PK taker.

"Yes, it is [important to have a go-to penalty kicker]," Fagundez said. "He hasn't missed all year so it's good for us. We've had a couple and he's finished them off. So this one is even more because we won 2-0 at home and that's very important."

Fagundez will continue to search for his first goal of the year. Now a known commodity in the league, the homegrown product knows that he has to continue to work hard and experiment if he wants to end his cold streak. Once he does, he knows the goals will come.

"I think people know what I can do," Fagundez remarked. "I think now I just have to step forward and try to do new things to get open. I think more things will come."

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