Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Diego Fagundez has been one of Major League Soccer’s most successful Homegrown Players, and even though the 19-year-old’s 2014 season hasn’t mirrored last year’s breakout campaign, he’s still done enough to attract attention in his native Uruguay.
The talented winger joined the Uruguay Under-20 team for the second time last week, playing in two friendlies against Peru. Fagundez came on as a substitute in the first match and played the full 90 minutes in the second game.
Fagundez also trained with the Uruguay U-20s in 2012, appearing as a substitute in two friendlies. All four of his games with Uruguay have come against Peru.
“It takes hard work to get there and just talking to all the players over there and seeing how they got there is just unbelievable,” Fagundez said on Thursday morning. “You can tell that they want it and it’s battles when you go over there.”
Fagundez has trained in the United States youth national program, but not since 2010.
Although he has lived in Massachusetts since age 5, Fagundez only gained U.S. permanent resident status in October 2013 and is not yet eligible to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Fagundez said on Wednesday he’s not planning to commit to either Uruguay or the United States just yet, saying he wants to “leave both doors open.”
Here are some more notes from Revs training this week:
REVS ADD AKPAN FROM RED BULLS
Much attention has been shown to the New England Revolution joining the pursuit of Jermaine Jones, but the Revs quietly added a lower-profile player to their roster on Tuesday, swapping the oft-injured Saer Sene for the New York Red Bulls’ Andre Akpan.
“I’m excited to be here,” Akpan said Thursday prior to his first practice session with the Revolution. “It happened really quickly. Obviously, I found out Tuesday morning, then I was on the road yesterday and got here today for my first training. I’m looking forward to working with the team. Luckily I know a handful of the guys already just from playing in the league.”
Although he hasn’t played professionally with any of the Revs current players, Akpan was a member of the same club team as midfielder/center back Stephen McCarthy growing up in Texas.
The 26-year-old forward is familiar with the Boston area, however, as Harvard University’s all-time leading scorer and assist man.
“Andre is a good, strong player that comes in fit and ready to go,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said. “(He is) someone I watched in college, I knew well, being up in this area, but also watching him in the league. I think he fits what we want to do and we want to get him in and adjusted to our group.”
Akpan struggled to find the field with New York, but it’s hard to blame him for managing just 12 appearances over the last two seasons with players like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Fabian Espindola also on the roster.
Regardless, Akpan said he looked back on his time with the Red Bulls as a positive experience.
“You get to watch one of the best strikers of all time (Henry) and the leading scorer in MLS (Wright-Phillips) every day in training and you can’t help but get better training with those guys and playing with those guys,” said Akpan, who called Henry his favorite player back in college.
Although Sene led the Revs with 10 goals in 2012, he suffered major, season-ending leg injuries the past two years, and has dealt with muscle injuries this season.
Heaps’ system demands his forwards perform an active two-way role, which made it difficult to employ Sene as more than a substitute of late, given his struggles for fitness.
Sene was also believed to be unsettled with the Revolution dating back to the beginning of the season, when Heaps chose to employ him on the outside rather than his preferred center forward.
REVS LOOK TO RETURN TO FORM OUT OF BYE WEEK
It’s no secret that New England has lost its way this summer, dropping nine of its last 10 matches, and after a well-timed bye week the Revs will try to snap out of their funk.
“We have to maximize points on Saturday night,” Heaps said of their upcoming home game against the Portland Timbers, adding that the bye week served as “a time of self-evaluation and correcting some of the areas where we feel we need improvement on.”
The schedule seems to be breaking the Revs’ way, as they’ll play five of their next six games at home. Along with the boost of the home crowd, less travel time should help as well.
“We were able to get a good, hard week of training in last week and get better,” defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell said. “But also rest up on the weekend and really prepare ourselves for the last part of the season where we need to treat every game as a must-win game.”
What do you think of these notes? Do you believe Fagundez could commit to playing for Uruguay in the future? Do you see Akpan making an impact with the Revs? Is the bye week going to help New England get back on track?
Share your thoughts below.