By IVES GALARCEP
Since his arrival as a Homegrown Player for the New England Revolution, Diego Fagundez has been dubbed a star in the making. Teammates have marveled at the youngster’s skills for several seasons, but it wasn’t until this year that the rest of the league found out just how special a talent he could be.
Fagundez enjoyed his breakout season in 2013, taking the league by storm with his combination of speed and technical skill. Capable of creating his own goals, and setting up teammates, Fagundez finished the season with a team-high 13 goals and seven assists to serve as the focal point of a Revs attack that helped the team go from missing the playoffs in 2012 to finishing third in the East in 2013.
Those efforts helped the 18-year-old Fagundez be voted SBI MLS Most Improved Player of the Year. An award designated to honor a player who enjoyed a career year and considerable improvement from previous seasons, the Most Improved Player award highlights the players who enjoyed breakout campaigns in 2013.
Fagundez beat out a strong field of players who reached new career heights in 2013. Here is a look at the other finalists for the award:
After struggling as a left back in previous seasons, Wallace enjoyed a stellar 2013 under new Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter after being moved to a left forward spot in the Timbers 4-3-3 system. Wallace finished the regular season with career highs in goals (7) and assists (6). In fact, he scored more goals in 2013 than in his previous four seasons combined (6).
When the 2013 season began, Neagle was re-acquired by the Seattle Sounders and seen as a likely bench option for Sigi Schmid’s side. All he did was emerge as a regular starter for the Sounders, serving as one of the key contributors on a team beset by injuries for much of the regular season. Even after Clint Dempsey’s arrival, Neagle continued to be a key factor. He finished the season with career highs in goals (8) and assists (4).
In a year of transition for Real Salt Lake, Grabavoy stepped up to pick up the slack left by the departures of Will Johnson and Fabian Espindola. Grabavoy logged career highs in goals (5), assists (5) and minutes (2688) as Javier Morales’ creative partner in RSL’s midfield. His movement, passing and creativity helped RSL finish with the second-most goals in the league.
What did you think of of Fagundez’s season? Who did you think was the Most Improved Player in MLS in 2013?
Share your thoughts below.