The hype machine around Diego Fagundez has been roaring for years, but only recently has it finally started to look real. The New England Revolution's star teenager is tearing it up, and he deserves every bit of praise he's earned in the last four games, especially after his masterpiece performance against Los Angeles.
I guess, then, it's proper to say that he's having a breakout year, and that he's a breakout player for the Revs. I would not, however, characterize him as the breakout player, because that limits the title to just one. Frankly, I think we're going to see two this season, and one of them has quietly begun the process of "breaking out" on his own: Kelyn Rowe.
For your consideration: Kelyn Rowe is tied for the league lead in assists, despite having only started eight of the Revs' thirteen matches, with another four substitute appearances. He scored his first goal of the league season on Sunday. All told, He's had a hand in six of the Revs' fifteen league goals, despite only logging 829 minutes.
Then there's also his performance in the Open Cup victory over Rochester. Rowe was the heart and soul of the team that night, the driving force behind everything good they were doing. He scored two goals and set up another in a banner performance.
The turning point for Rowe came in the 2-0 victory over Philadelphia, when Jay Heaps elected to run out his now-signature 4-1-4-1 and put Rowe in the middle next to Lee Nguyen. He responded by assisting on the opening goal and firing off three shots of his own. While it wasn't the most economical performance - he competed 75% of his passes and was dispossessed several times throughout the match - it was probably one of the best games of his career as a starter.
If not for the injury he suffered in the middle of May, it's unlikely he would have been bounced from the starting lineup. What he managed to do in just 33 minutes against the Galaxy is proof positive that he has the talent. Last season, it was his inability to extrapolate explosive substitute performances into full 90-minute efforts that left fans frustrated.
This year, it looks like he's ready to make that transition. The league might not be ready for the Revs to have two breakout players, but it'll have to get used to the idea nonetheless, because Kelyn Rowe has arrived.