Fagundez breaks through with style

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If there were any doubts about the quality or skill of Diego Fagundez going into Saturday’s game against the Sounders, the 19-year-old erased them with a flourish by finding the back of the net twice on Sunday.

Fagundez, who led the Revolution in scoring last season, remained goalless through his first nine games prior to Sunday’s contest. But before the interval arrived, the flashy midfielder already had pocketed a pair to steer the Revolution toward a 5-0 romp of Seattle.

“It’s a relief for me,” Fagundez said. “I’ve been waiting for this one a while and hopefully now I can start banging some in because I’ve been looking for this for a while.”

After a sensational 2013 season that saw Fagundez score a team-best 13 goals, the teenager’s early-season struggles were a head-scratcher, to say the least.

He looked every bit of the dynamic playmaker in the club’s season opener against Houston, which saw Fagundez collect a series of chances -- including one that crashed into the crossbar -- in the second half of a 4-0 loss to the Dynamo on March 8.

But as the season extended into April and early May, the struggles became more pronounced. He was certainly getting his fair share of shots, with a team-high 23 going into the weekend. Pulling the trigger was not the problem.

What was particularly vexing, however, was that those shots weren’t getting through, or worse, ending up right in the waiting arms of opposing goalkeepers.

“Diego’s been working really hard,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “He trains extremely hard, and so I see those finishes quite a bit. They just hadn’t come in the big game yet, and I thought you saw tonight what kind of class he has.”

That class was as clear as the late-spring sky over Gillette Stadium at kickoff. After Patrick Mullins secured an early goal, Fagundez began to build the lead in the 29th minute after securing a well-weighted through ball from Chris Tierney. With only Stefan Frei to beat, Fagundez ripped a shot past the goalkeeper’s reach.

While the weight of his goal-scoring slump off his back, Fagundez raced over toward the crowd and made a heart-shaped figure with his hands -- a tribute to his mom, and on Mother’s Day, no less.

“It was a perfect way to show all the mothers that came to the field, especially the one that raised me and did everything for me,” Fagundez said. “It was just a great moment and I dedicated that goal to my mom.”

With the evasive first goal of the season secured, Fagundez went in search of another in the 41st minute. On a quick break from the back, Teal Bunbury lobbed a long ball ahead for the teenager, who left Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin in his wake. With no one to challenge him, Fagundez brought the ball down with his chest, and once again fired away as Frei’s attempt to stop the shot came up short.

“I knew (Yedlin) would go up a lot and there was going to be space,” Fagundez said, “and I took advantage of that and they got punched for that.”

Though there was no stopping Fagundez -- or the Revolution offense as a whole, for that matter -- Heaps credited his team’s enterprising form going forward. The offensive outburst put the game out reach by halftime, and it showed that the Revolution wouldn’t be intimidated by the Sounders, who entered the contest at the top of the table.

“I thought we took our chances well,” Heaps said. “It was not our best stuff to start, but I thought we handled it well, I thought Bobby made a big save. We’re a team that when we do take our chances, we’re pretty dangerous, and I thought we took our chances tonight.”

And for Fagundez, it was surely a relief to see not one, but two, chances end up in the back of the net.