U.S. international Juan Agudelo left the States with his sights set for Stoke City.
More than two years have passed, and the former New York Red Bull youth product has returned to the New England Revolution, the MLS club where he netted his highest career goal tally after only sixteen appearances.
Agudelo had been wanting out of American soccer, but his work permit for the Potters was denied twice, prompting front office staff and manager Mark Hughes to terminate his contract by the end of the 2013-14 season.
He’s been a free agent since May when his loan deal with FC Utrecht in the Erevidisie expired, and USMNT fans might be wondering how Agudelo will fit back into his formerly successful environment.
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In his short four-month stint with New England, the Colombian-American forward was an absolutely clinical scorer, and the Revs certainly needed him to catapult themselves into the Eastern Conference’s third place.
“Juan is a player that we always knew that we would be interested in welcoming back to the club if the opportunity presented itself, and now it has,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a press release.
“He is familiar with our club, our coaches, many of his teammates and the system that we play so we are confident that he will be able to fit right in and help us straight away.”
Via email, Brian O’Connell, a trusted Revs beat writer for ESPN Boston, summed up goal-scoring effectiveness of Agudelo during his brief stint in Foxborough.
“Those seven goals came from only 11 shots on goal. In other words, he put away more than half (63.6%) the shots he took. Clearly, any club is going to benefit from a striker who can do that.”
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Agudelo spearheaded the powerful, hold-up striker mold wonderfully, and Revolution fans were, and still are, happy with the skills Agudelo has, despite recent misfortune in his soccer career.
This goal, for example, demonstrates his awareness and quick feet on the pitch.
Agudelo’s first goal at Utretch was also superbly taken.
Agudelo is an exceptional talent up front with quick feet for his size, strong-footed runs and a resolute finishing ability when he feels ready for it.
He’s a performer the Revolution could definitely use to stay ahead in the Eastern Conference when inaugural teams New York City FC and Orlando City SC try to make an impact with their high-priced Designated Players.
But what brand of Juan will take the pitch? Hopefully, and likely the case, Agudelo will hand the Revolution exactly what was missing. O’Connell did note, though, that coming-of-age issues have arisen in the past.
“There are also some underlying maturity issues at play as well, as the 22-year-old has been known to take plays off from time to time (something that apparently led him being traded twice in the course of one calendar year),” he wrote.
Now a more hard-nosed, veteran-sturdy team with a winning direction, Agudelo may find it easier to keep his attitude in check.
The Revolution clash against Clint Dempsey and Western Conference power Seattle Sounders to open the season, and Agudelo will surely be out there in the starting XI, with expectations fairly high; perhaps he will line up next to Davies in a two-forward formation if Heaps decides to ditch the 4-2-3-1 setup that worked so well last year.
Based on the talent that’s already at their disposal, the Revs’ roster is shaping up quite nicely, and a deep playoff run becomes even more plausible with the mohawked kid back in town.