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 Nov. 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 Thursday, that pup takes another step forward, earning an honor which reminds us how far he still has to go.
AS Roma turned around a three-goal first leg deficit against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and i Lupi feel prepared to do it against Liverpool, too.
Roma fell 5-2 to the Reds on Tuesday, but again struck late to bring away goals back to Italy. This time, it was Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti ruining a host’s clean sheet.
[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]
Manager Eusebio Di Francesco was not thrilled with his side on the night. From ASRoma.com/En:
“We weren’t on their level tonight – we were lacking a bit of strength and physical presence,” he said. “We let them swamp us too easily on occasion.”
A better second leg is almost assured, but can Roma complete another comeback?
“I have total belief,” Di Francesco said. “You can’t just give in during a game, especially in this type of competition. Sometimes you take a few hits, but the team wasn’t able to stay in the game and at times we lost a bit of unity.”
Sporting director Monchi admits that he thought his side was cooked before Dzeko opened Roma’s account.
“Up until the final 10 minutes we were out of the competition,” he said. “Now we still have some hopes, and we must take this small chance and do the same thing we did against Barcelona.”
Former Spurs defender Federico Fazio, now with Roma, thinks it can be done.
“We always focus on the positives,” said Fazio. “We are fighters and we will give absolutely everything until the last second. We are not beaten yet, once again with the strength of our fans behind us we will fight to the last moment to try and turn this tie around.”
Liverpool won Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal 5-2 against Roma at Anfield, but it’s show-stopping 80-minute isn’t carrying a ton of momentum in the echoes of the final whistle.
[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]
That’s because of two factors:
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off the field with an ugly injury
- The two in the score line came in the final 10 minutes, as Liverpool almost inexplicably lost focus.
Before we get to Point No. 2, here’s Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on “The Ox”:
“Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably a really bad injury,” Klopp said on BT Sport in England. “That is bad news for us. The squad doesn’t get bigger at the moment so we need to be creative in the next few games.”
As for the Roma goals, Klopp was frustrated but ultimately happy to walk away with a three-goal lead.
Edin Dzeko headed home the Roma opener in the 81st minute before Diego Perotti converted a penalty kick after James Milner handled a ball in the box. Roma collected shot attempts in the final 10 minutes to finish the match 21-14 in Liverpool’s favor.
Klopp did not think it should have been a PK.
“Long term perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes or so,” he said, via the BBC. “We made defensively one mistake. Penalty is not a penalty but that is the situation and now it is 5-2. Of course we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again.”
Count Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson among those let down by the final 10 minutes of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.
The Reds took a 5-0 lead and conceded goals to Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti to give the visitors hope with two away goals heading back to Italy for the May 2 second leg.
[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]
“It felt as though we were in full control but we basically gave them two goals, you can’t do that in the Champions League,” Henderson said. “At the same time we played well, we will go there with a three goal advantage.”
Reds center back Virgil Van Dijk was visibly frustrated even when discussing the boss-level effort in building a lead which should be very hard to erase in Rome.
“It was a fantastic evening, lot of good goals,” Van Dijk said. “A lot of passion, frustration, but the last minutes stays in my mind right now. … It can’t happen. Obviously we know Roma have a lot of quality but we need to do better. But we have a 5-2 lead to take with us to Rome. It’s going to be very tough, but we’ll be ready.”
So 3-0 or 4-1 would do it for Roma next week in Italy, but that’s far easier said than done. Liverpool fans won’t be booking too many flights for Ukraine yet, but Jurgen Klopp will be scouting Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on Wednesday with an eye toward Kiev.
- Ex-Roma star Salah bags 42nd, 43rd of season
- Picks up two assists as well
- Firmino also has two and two
Liverpool’s trident impaled its visitors again and again, as the Premier League side took a 5-2 first leg lead over AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League semifinal at Anfield on Tuesday.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino braces bookended a Sadio Mane marker as the front three ran riot on Roma ahead of May 2’s second leg in Italy.
Roma’s only consolation comes in the form of two goals in the final 10 minutes; The first was an Edin Dzeko marker in the final 10 minutes. The second a penalty given for a James Milner handball that Diego Perotti converted for a second away goal.
[ MORE: Full box score and statistics ]
Roma will carry the same hopeful message as it did in the first leg against Barcelona, down three but this time with a pair of away markers.
Salah scored the first two goals, and the opener was a precise finish for the Egyptian wonder.
An offside but uncalled Salah worked a 1-2 with Firmino to add to his total before finding Mane to make it 3-0 with a tap-in.
Trent-Alexander Arnold sent Salah down the right side for the fourth goal, his 62nd minute pass reaching Firmino for an attempt he’ll finish 95 times out of 100.
It was simply calamity off a corner for the fifth goal, a disheartened Roma offering little as Firmino completed his brace.