Fagundez soaking it in

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For most 16-year-olds, obtaining a driver's license ranks among the top moments of their young lives. But Diego Fagundez doesn't care much about that.

He has his learner's permit, but Fagundez hasn't yet taken the driver's-ed courses needed to apply for a license. So, for now, Fagundez, the 16-year-old striker for the New England Revolution, gets a ride from his parents to the team's training sessions at Gillette Stadium from the family home in Leominster, Mass.

The arrangement isn't so bad.

"I let my parents drive in the morning so I can sleep an extra hour on the way in," Fagundez said after a recent practice. "On the way back, I'll drive."

By all appearances, Fagundez is a regular teen. He sports a Mohawk that makes his 5-foot-8 frame (that's according to the Revolution's website; he looks more like 5-6) seem a few inches taller. After training, Fagundez returns home and typically picks up the Xbox controller to play "FIFA" or hangs out with friends who are on summer break. During the fall, Fagundez attends Leominster High School, where he'll enter his sophomore year in September. He doesn't play for the school soccer team, however.

He's a professional.

A little more than a year ago, Fagundez, then 15, was signed by the Revolution as a "Home Grown Player." He was the youngest player to sign with a Major League Soccer team since former teenage sensation Freddy Adu, who was drafted by D.C. United at age 14 in 2004.

Last Saturday, Fagundez made his professional debut in the Revolution's 3-2 loss to Chivas USA at Gillette. He entered in the 66th minute and had an immediate impact. About two minutes into his pro career, Fagundez worked to earn a penalty kick, which Shalrie Joseph converted for a goal. Then in the 86th minute, Fagundez tallied his first goal. He fielded Kevin Alston's long arching pass, turned a Chivas defender inside out and beat goalkeeper Dan Kennedy with a left-footer.

It was the first step in what promises to be a long, successful career for Fagundez. However, for as much as things have come naturally to the teenage star, now the challenge begins.

"You look at teenage phenoms and some of them have hit their peaks at 15, 17 years old, then at 25, you never hear of them again," said Mike Burns, Revolution vice president of player personnel. "Some guys develop earlier and others develop later. Some guys that might not be as advanced at 17 might become a fantastic player by the time they're 25. You never know.

"We hope we have [Fagundez] on the right track so that he's not one of those kids you don't hear about 10 years from now."

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