By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution have always been careful about the development of now 19-year-old Diego Fagundez, and the electric left winger has finally righted the course on offense the last three weeks with four goals and two assists over that stretch.
Before that, Fagundez showed maturity beyond his years as he went goalless over the first nine games, but didn’t let the drought affect the rest of his game, according to Revs coach Jay Heaps.
“I think it’s just maintaining the course,” Heaps said. “He was training really well during that whole time that he didn’t score under the big lights, but at the same time he was doing things that we expect of him. Things that he could control he was doing, which was his attitude, his effort, his defensive responsibilities.”
Fagundez was still able to make shots for himself – he’s 10th in MLS in shots (35) and ninth in shots on goal (14) – but things have opened up for the teenager since center forward Patrick Mullins was inserted into the starting lineup four games ago.
Fagundez has two points in each of the last three games and has combined well with Mullins, who Fagundez has assisted each of the past two games.
“After I scored that first goal this season,” Fagundez said after topping D.C. United 2-1 last weekend, “it opened up a lot for me.”
Here are some other notes from Revs training:
GONCALVES GOES FULL 90
Jose Goncalves made his return to the pitch last Saturday against D.C., and while most players would be eased back into the lineup after a five-game layoff, Goncalves – known for his reliability and conditioning – isn’t most players.
Heaps left the Revs’ captain in for the full 90 minutes against a veteran, Eastern Conference rival, and the roster variables reflected that he had planned for that all along as Heaps chose just one true defender (Darrius Barnes) for his bench.
“I think Jose has been ready for a little while, but last week was what we thought was the right time to put him in,” Heaps said. “He was ready to go 90 minutes.”
On Thursday, Goncalves said he felt “very good” being back in a game situation.
ALSTON CLOSE TO RETURN
In other injury-related news, wingback Kevin Alston looks set to return to the game day 18 this week after missing the last three games with a bum hamstring.
“He’s actually doing very well,” Heaps said. “He trained partial sessions last week and full sessions this week.”
With Goncalves back to manning the middle, Alston faces strong competition for playing time on the flanks, with Andrew Farrell, Chris Tierney, Barnes and O’Brian Woodbine also in the mix.
Before injuring himself against Toronto FC on May 3, the 26-year-old Alston had been starting at left back and was in his best run of form in recent memory.
CALDWELL THE CLOSER
In New England, old-timers tell of how legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach would light a victory cigar when he knew the Celtics had wrapped up a win.
This year, the Revolution’s version of a victory cigar has been defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell as they are 7-0-1 in the eight games Caldwell has subbed into.
“With my position, I’m typically not going to go into a game if we’re losing,” said Caldwell, who has been supplanted as a starter this season by the reinvigorated Andy Dorman.
That doesn’t mean the 23-year-old Caldwell hasn’t still been effective in his 159 substitute minutes.
Over that period, New England has outscored opponents 6-2 in late game situations, helped by Caldwell’s possession-oriented game.
The two goals conceded came in a 5-3 blowout over the Philadelphia Union two weekends ago, while Caldwell also assisted on a late Lee Nguyen winner against San Jose back in March.
Rookie first rounder Steve Neumann has similarly settled into a consistent role, subbing on in each of the last six games and making the active roster the past nine.
The midfielder has found a way to make an impact in even fewer minutes than Caldwell, last week making a save off the goal line one minute after coming on in the 88th minute.
“Both those players in particular are pushing,” Heaps said. “They’re not complacent and happy to be coming off the bench, they want to have bigger roles and I love that.”
What do you think? Has the emergence of Mullins been a turning point for Fagundez? Should Alston return to the starting lineup? Have Caldwell and Neumann earned more minutes down the road?
Share your thoughts below.
as a Boston native, I can say that the above statements about our insular market are spot on. I think having a stadium near the city would be loads better, but as it stands now it is a huge leap for most to make the trip there.
I hope the wheels are turning to get Diego his American citizenship; we need to get him in the US setup as soon as possible. I believe he was born in Uruguay and came here as a child. He certainly has the skills!
As for the support, all the above apply – Media disdain for soccer, the cavernous football stadium and it’s artificial surface. However, the Revs are now playing attractive, attacking soccer are on top of the Eastern standings – I hope things will change.
He is on the path, but it’s going to take several more years (although a little quicker if he marries an american!).
The Revs have Bengston listed as a DP on their website since 2012. His salary is $144000. He does well for Honduras, but has not showed for New England at all. Why do they keep him?
He has dirty info on everyone.
I think they hope he does something in the WC so that they can move his contract. There is no p[lace for him on this team now
It’s “Uruguayan” genes!
i’m assuming his armband says “BFD”, and that’s awesome.
Boston Fire Department in memory of a couple of firefighters that had lost their lives in a fire. First time I saw it, I thought Big F’n Deal, myself and had a chuckle, knowing it had to be something else.
well now i’m disappointed. and now i feel bad about being disappointed.
Yes, pretty sure BFD is for Boston Fire Department
Because they play in the middle of no where in a football stadium
How does this team not get supported ? Very exciting. Very young, Very American…and they win.
They should have 50k every weekend.
The competition in the Boston pro-sports market is pretty stiff, but this could be a big summer for the Revs – the Sox are sucking wind, and the Bruins and Celts are out of the playoffs – hopefully the Revs can take advantage of the media space for the rest of the summer.
The stadium is far from downtown Boston and has no public transportation access. The Boston area is where the young/immigrant/college fan base is and that’s where this team should be located.
Ever see our stadium? It is a horrible place to watch a soccer match. Mausoleum, on a carpet.
I trust you go to games.
Boston sports media are some of the most backward I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lived in California, DC, and St. Louis, and this is the only place I’ve ever been that simply has no room for anything other than their big four teams. Note, I said teams, not sports. In Boston, as soon as the local team is out of the playoffs, it’s as if that sport ceases to exist. Hockey is not on the nightly news, at all, because the Bruins are out. The news literally covers the Bruins, the Red Sox, the Patriots and the Celtics, with only the briefest of lip service ever given to other teams in their leagues (e.g., they’ll cover the Yankees if they’re in a playoff race with the Sox). Literally no other teams exist, even in the big four sports.
Hard to build a following in a such an insular sports environment.
Very true. Was listening to WEEI the other morning and they were asking, “uhhh, do we actually have to care about this (world cup). Soccer is fun when you play, but so isn’t ultimate frisbee. That doesn’t mean we have to watch it. I don’t need to talk about tactics or strategy; it’s pretty straight forward – kick it and shoot it in the goal.” Now let’s talk about the exciting sport of baseball. (I’m a huge Red Sox fan, but I find it funny how the sports radio talking heads slam soccer for being boring, while talking endlessly about baseball. I can hardly watch baseball anymore, and forget a game not involving the Red Sox. Whereas with soccer I can watch most anything.)
Not quite American enough to be in our national team. I hope he waits for his application to be completed.