Fagundez gets starting opportunity

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even as one of the faces of the Revolution franchise, 18-year-old Homegrown Player Diego Fagundez has never been one to take first team minutes for granted.

He knows that nothing is earned without hard work. Without determination. Without putting in the maximum effort, especially during weekly training sessions.

So whenever he sees his named penciled into the starting XI, as he did on Saturday against FC Dallas, Fagundez soaks up every minute of it.

“I was loving it [the playing time],” Fagundez said after the game. “I got 80-something minutes and it felt like I had been playing for a while. The training’s been [going] well for me, so once I stepped on the field, it was game-on for me.”

In 85 minutes of action, Fagundez provided a potent presence on a squad that was starving for its first goal since their season opener three weeks ago in Chicago.

In the 34th minute, the teenager claimed one of the Revolution’s best scoring chances of the afternoon when he collected a pass from Jerry Bengtson and slid into the area to fire a quick shot on Raul Fernandez. But even though Fernandez dove to make the stop, and the Revolution ultimately fell 1-0, it was the kind of creative spark head coach Jay Heaps was looking for when he penciled in his young playmaker.

“[We put in] Diego for a little more offense,” Heaps said after Saturday’s game. “I thought he brought it tonight. I thought Diego did alright, a couple turnovers, but overall it was positive in what he was trying to do.”

And he did it out of his customary position, too. Typically, Fagundez plays on the right or inside as a withdrawn forward. But for Saturday’s contest, Heaps deployed him out on the left, hoping to give Dallas a different look.

While the switch may have given the Dallas defenders a few problems, it suited Fagundez just fine. He completed 80 percent of his passes, and more importantly, helped strengthen the attack as the game progressed.

“I’m really comfortable [playing on the left wing],” Fagundez said. “I like going one on one against defenders or moving around, especially when you have a lot of good players like Juan [Toja] and Lee [Nguyen] and Ryan [Guy] and Jerry [Bengtson] up top. We can move around and get open.”

About the only problem Heaps faced with Fagundez on the field was when to take him off, given that the talented teenager hadn’t played a full game since last season.

“He hadn’t played 90 yet [this season],” Heaps said. “So I knew he was tired, but he seemed so positive in what he was doing -- a lot of what he was trying to do -- so I didn’t want to take him out too soon.”