The way he plays on the field, it would be easy to forget Diego Fagúndez is one of the youngest players in Major League Soccer, but as one of the league’s highest profile homegrown players, the Uruguayan-born attacker’s age is never far from fan’s minds. Having scored 21 goals in his first 69 career matches, Fagúndez makes it easy to tout the fact he’s only 19 years old.
One of the rights of passage that comes with that age happens to Fagúndez next week. On June 5 in Fitchburg, Mass., the Revolution star will receive his high school diploma from Goodrich Academy, graduating in four years despite spending the bulk of that time beginning his career in professional soccer.
Fagúndez was signed by New England in November 2010 while a freshman in high school and made his full Revolution debut the following April in U.S. Open Cup. During the ensuing years he went from part-time status (314, 770 MLS minutes played his first two seasons) to a full-time player, registering 2427 minutes for Jay Heaps over 31 appearances last season.
Of course, his raw time on the field isn’t what sets Fagúndez apart, though the minutes alone are impressive for a player who’s also finishing high school. Last year, Fagúndez scored 14 goals. After recovering from a slow start, his early 2014 returns give him a chance to challenge those totals. Through 12 games, Fagúndez has four goals and three assists.
But consider the implications of those last couple of sentences – how easy it is to move on from Fagúndez’s age and talk about him as if he’s not going to be walking down an aisle next Thursday in a cap and gown. We discuss Fagúndez like we’d discuss some of the 21 and 22-year-olds that are in the draft each year, but he isn’t even close to that age, yet. In MLS terms, this kid’s just a pup.
On June 5, that pup takes another step forward, earning an honor which reminds us how far he still has to go.
-Richard Farley, NBC Sports Pro Soccer Talk