Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution

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.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
Leave a comment

Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
1 Comment

A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia