Who is Diego Fagundez – and why the young scorer won’t soon be playing for the United States
Anyone else get the feeling that we would be in full supporter flutter about Diego Fagundez, that the young man’s Q rating would already be through the domestic soccer roof, if he played in Seattle or New York or Los Angeles? The supporter buzz does seem amplified when it emanates from soccer’s loudest market voices, eh?
Either way, if you haven’t laid eyes on the New England Revolution scoring sensation, you really should do something about that. Bare bones bio: He’s 18, a Revolution academy product, mostly plays out wide but can certainly lean inside, who just led the Revs with 13 goals.
The “Wow” factor doubles when you consider that Fagundez didn’t take any of New England’s penalty kicks; most of the league’s leading scorers have that advantage. He is the youngest player (and the only teenager) in MLS history to score 10 goals or more in a season.
I’ve written some of this before, but the MLS playoff season serves as the perfect excuse for a reminder. (FYI, mea culpa on one PST weekend post. I said Fagundez was rarely seen in the Revolution’s 2-1 win over Sporting KC. While that’s mostly true, it was his shot that pinged around and eventually became the playoff season’s first highly controversial goal. So, my bad.)
Plus, it’s an excuse to answer the next question on everyone’s mind: Is young Fagundez, who was born in Uruguay and moved here when he was 5, a U.S. national team prospect?
The short answer is: “No … not yet.”
Fagundez recently received permanent residency status, which is the first step toward becoming a U.S. citizen. As for his soccer, he wants to play for the United States national team. So in this way, this is unlike the situations we saw with Andy Najar (Honduras) or Guiseppe Rossi (Italy) or Neven Subotic (Serbia). All of them had conflicted feelings about their national soccer identities. All eventually leaned elsewhere.
Not Fagundez, apparently. He wants his Uncle Sam to want him.
But before we get into a debate about how those other prospects were handled, and how the U.S. Soccer federation should or should not approach the Revolution’s loaded young gun, know this:
It’s a moot point. He is not a citizen and cannot become one for five years. Unless he marries, and then it’s three years.
So Fagundez, who is surely already on European clubs’ radar – and will become an even brighter blip on the radar if he scores during the ongoing MLS playoffs – would have to wait until he’s about 23 before U.S. Soccer could even extend an invitation.
It could happen that way. But that could potentially mean a whole bunch of saying “no” to Uruguay in the meantime – and those opportunities seem to be drawing nearer.