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Who is Diego Fagundez – and why the young scorer won’t soon be playing for the United States

Nov 4, 2013, 7:04 PM EDT

Fagundez 2

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.

  1. overtherepermanently - Nov 4, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    I’ll state my prediction again – best attacker in MLS by 2015.

    He’s already alluded to the fact that though he’d prefer the US, he’ll consider Uruguay if they come calling sooner. He’s already been to one of their youth camps. Sadly, not holding my breath on this one. That being said, the Revs have him wrapped up long term, and he doesn’t sound as if he is in too much of a hurry to jump overseas – though that may come in the next 2-3 years.

  2. jgthorington - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    I think we are fine. Uruguay is by no means struggling for young talent, or talent in general.

  3. danielofthedale - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    I think he will move to Europe before he turns 23 and thus will not really ever be eligible to play for the US. Its a shame since the kid is such a great talent.

  4. geojock - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Didnt MLS design the young DP rule for players just like him? NE needs to lock him up.

    • overtherepermanently - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:04 AM

      They already have him signed long term. At least until 2017 I believe.

  5. midtec2005 - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    I mean this as apolitically as possible…

    maybe it’s time to look at why it’s so hard for someone who immigrated legally, grew up in the U.S., and is fully an American, to officially become a citizen. This shouldn’t be an issue, but it is. I think he moved here in 2000, that means he was what, 5?

    • bostonredsoccer - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      All the circumstantial evidence points to Diego’s family overstaying their tourist visa when they came to visit family. Once they weren’t here legally, the system really can’t do much. Even the DREAM Act was designed for people once they graduated HS or more (often 2 years or military service), so that wouldn’t have been much help. We make it hard for people here “off the books” to step into the light, even when they have been here a long time.

      There is almost no way to be in the US for 10 years on most any kind of visa without switching to a Green Card. Generally, the US process requires that you leave for a while if you aren’t eligible for (or don’t want) a Green Card. But there are still lots of problems with the overall system and the long waits that residents of Mexico and India have to go through to get here through the legal process.

  6. charliej11 - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    The guy can play. Americans are consistantly coming to MLS in droves, the US will be fine either way.

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