New England midfielder Diego Fagundez has had a lot of firsts in his young professional soccer career, and he added yet another one on Wednesday when the Revs battled the Earthquakes in San Jose.
With usual captain Claude Dielna suspended for the match, veteran Chris Tierney done for the season, and last year’s captain Lee Nguyen no longer with the team, first-year manager Brad Friedel entrusted New England’s first-ever Homegrown player with the captain’s armband to start the match.
The youngest player with 100 appearances and 25 goals in MLS history had worn the armband before late in games, but he’s never had a chance to lead the team out and be the Revs’ visible leader at kickoff. Fagundez downplayed the achievement. “It was actually pretty cool”, he said, “but at the end of the day we all have to be leaders on the field.”
He certainly led by example against the Quakes, as the first MLS Homegrown field player to log 10,000 minutes scored the Revs’ first goal on a beautiful free kick to knot the match 1-1. He later assisted on Cristian Penilla’s sixth goal of the year in the 2-2 draw.
With the World Cup group stages kicking off this week, the Revolution don’t play another match until June 30, a home date with DC United. One thing is sure. If Diego starts that match with the venerable armband, it’ll be yet another first for him: leading his hometown team onto the field at Gillette Stadium for the first time in front of his family and friends.