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Uruguay Under-20 team has a promising star: Diego Fagundez

Uruguay Under-20 team has a promising star: Diego Fagundez

Posted by José Peralta on August 07, 2014

Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez moved a step closer to committing to Uruguay’s national soccer team program by playing for the country’s Under-20 squad against Peru Monday night.

But Fagundez, 19, is not ruling out a future with the US national team.

“It’s something that doesn’t come every day,” Fagundez said of the Uruguay callup. “I talked it over with my parents and I’m going to see how it is.

“The door is still open and I will never close it, so if something happens with the US and I can get everything going . . . you never know how things will happen and if people can help you with citizenship.”

Fagundez was born in Uruguay before moving to Leominster as a youngster and signing with the Revolution in 2011 as a 15-year-old. Fagundez scored a goal in his Revolution debut Aug. 7 of that year (in a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA) and has totaled 21 goals in 79 MLS appearances.

In his second stint with Uruguay’s U-20 team, Fagundez entered as a substitute Monday as the team lost, 1-0, to Peru at Estadio Alberto Gallardo in Lima. Another match is scheduled at Estadio Nacional Wednesday, a preliminary to the Peru-Panama senior team matchup.

Since these are not FIFA competition matches, they will not tie Fagundez to Uruguay.

Fagundez, who was involved with the US junior national team program before it was determined that he was not a citizen, attained green card status a year and a half ago but will not be eligible for US citizenship for another 3½ years.

Fagundez is the only foreign-based player invited to the camp. Uruguay is preparing to host the U-20 South American qualifiers Jan. 14-Feb. 7. The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Cup May 30-June 20 in New Zealand and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

“This is a great opportunity for me to take and maybe this is the one thing that will open more doors,” Fagundez said last week. “No, there’s no promises. All they did was invite me to play in two friendlies.

“Everyone is new to the squad from the last time I went [in 2012]. We played against Peru the last time but I haven’t been there since, so I’ll have to get used to them and it will be tough.

“I wouldn’t be committed . . . I’m just going there, it’s a tryout, and seeing how it goes. This is just one thing and other things could happen. It’s a huge opportunity. Not every kid gets this chance.’’

The US remains interested in Fagundez, according to national team assistant coach Tab Ramos.

“Of course, he’s a good player and we would like to have him in our program,” said Ramos, who is preparing the US U-23 team for a match against the Bahamas Wednesday. “I’ve inquired through [Revolution general manager] Michael Burns but, unfortunately, it’s a long process.

“I’ve been watching him since he was 11 or 12 years old, and it’s hard to believe it would take so long for him to become a citizen. He’s been in this country so long. He grew up here. It’s a little disappointing.”

Fagundez performed as a second-half substitute in the Revolution’s 2-1 loss at New York Saturday and has totaled four goals in 22 appearances this season. He is expected to rejoin the Revolution Friday.

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