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New England Revolution: A tribute to club legend Diego Fagundez

With Diego Fagundez officially leaving the New England Revolution, The Bent Musket reflects on our favorite moments from his time in New England.

©J. Alexander Dolan

When you think of the New England Revolution, it’s hard not to think of Diego Fagundez. He will forever be linked to the club even though he is officially gone.

Fagundez will be joining Austin FC for the 2021 season. In the club’s debut season, they will be getting quite the midfielder.

Fagundez was the first Homegrown player for the club and was the first Homegrown talent in MLS history to tally 10,000 minutes played. The midfielder was also the youngest player in MLS history to record 100 appearances and 25 goals. His best season came in 2013 when he scored 13 goals and seven assists.

So now that Fagundez has left New England, the staff at The Bent Musket reflects on our favorite Fagundez moments.

Sam - MLS Debut Match

Personally my favorite memory will be the start for Fagundez. His debut MLS match was a big moment for the club as he was New England’s first Homegrown product.

It showed that the Revolution were making improvements as a club (even though they still had a long way to go). They were able to develop talent that could make an impact in MLS.

Now the midfielder got his first minutes in The US Open Cup, but his true debut was his first league match on August 6th of 2011. Fagundez came on as a sub, drew a penalty, and scored a goal in the 86th minute. A debut doesn't get much better than that.

From there, fans could see that Fagundez had what it takes to be an MLS player, but who could have imagined that would be the start of such a long career with the club.

Seth - The 2013 Season

Fagundez’s debut was nothing short of a dream as the plucky 16-year-old scored a goal and drew a PK. But it was two years later that the Homegrown product showed that he’s the real deal.

Fagundez collected 13 goals and seven assists in 2013. The crafty midfielder was all over the field, combining with Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, and others. Positionally, he was spot on, as he was always ready to slide the ball past the keeper. It was a true breakout season.

Despite the peaks and valleys that followed in subsequent seasons, the 25-year-old leaves New England as a club legend. He’s the first Homegrown field player to amass 10,000 MLS minutes and the youngest player to own 100 appearances and 25 goals in league history. He was there when the club made it to the MLS Cup Final in 2014 and the U.S. Cup Final in 2016.

Perhaps most importantly, Fagundez was a role model for young players in New England. He showed them what was possible and allowed them to dream. He now heads to Austin, but I can’t help but hope that he dons a Revs jersey again in the future.

Jake - Revolution 5, LA Galaxy 0: June 2nd, 2013

A national television destruction of the LA Galaxy had no shortage of Diego Fagundez. He highlighted the opening assist to Saer Sene and a prophetic call from Arlo White himself on the team’s 3rd goal as Diego was on the receiving end of a one-two combination from Kelyn Rowe to slot home past an increasingly bewildered Carlo Cudicini. I don’t even have to search for that video on YouTube since I watch it so often.

I’m not sure if this was the best game of Diego’s career, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable games as is his debut league match Sam mentioned. For all Fagundez did on the field, it’s the memories and personality off of it that will be Diego’s lasting impact. The hair, the flair, and as Jeff Lemieux mentioned, yes, watching highlight videos of Diego’s high school graduation and prom and just general life as a teenage professional soccer player was just so unique it is unlikely to be repeated in team history.

Steve - Also Diego’s MLS Debut

Sam went with this pick already, but it will always be my defining Diego Fagundez moment.

Nobody wants to remember the 2011 season. The Revs were worse than abysmal. The club signed their first-ever Designated Player that year (Milton Caraglio, who made his debut in this same match), actually went out and got some foreign talent, and even brought their first Homegrown signing into the fold, and I can still remember the whole campaign feeling like a lost cause.

This, then, is the only part of that season I want to remember. Diego, a skinny kid of 16 with a fauxhawk half-again as tall as he was, getting his league debut in the 66th minute. This slippery, wiry little kid weaving in and out of Chivas defenders and drawing the penalty that brought the Revs back in it. But more than that, his goal. I remember his goal, a clear and shining memory from my first full season after starting this site.

Kevin Alston’s simple, dangerous long ball over the top. Shalrie’s neutralization of the first defender. And then Diego, with a fistful of Zarek Valentin’s shirt, trying to line up the ball and bring it down, realizing he doesn’t have it, and instead running under and around Valentin, out-leveraging him and scampering in a tight little loop right around the other side, finding himself wide open, and lashing the bouncing ball into the bottom corner.

It’s no mean feat for a 16-year old to make a professional debut in this sport. It was even more remarkable in the MLS of 2011, a league patrolled by muscular, aggressive, and brutal midfield destroyers, with defenses staffed by bruising, vicious axe-men, for a scrawny kid to even survive 24 minutes (plus stoppage time) on a fake turf pitch, trying to scratch something out of a losing effort.

Diego did more than that. Diego walked on that pitch and turned the game on its head. He grabbed his older, more experienced teammates by the scruffs of their necks and hauled them back into the match. Chivas USA’s defense couldn’t track him, couldn’t hold him, couldn’t contain him. Sitting up in the press box after months of dreary, terrible soccer, seeing it was like diving into a pool on a hot day, or like that first sip of beer after a hard week at work. It was refreshing, energizing, enervating in all the best ways.

Diego’s career trajectory from there was, of course, up, but also rocky. He spent 10 years with us, wowing us and frustrating us in turn, central to the decade’s greatest successes, and unfortunately party to its many failures. Maybe he never fully delivered on the promise of being New England’s first homegrown, first youth phenom, the Leominster wonderkid signed at 15. It happens that way sometimes.

But for 24 glorious minutes on August 6, 2011, he was everything, and I’ll never forget it.