Texas bound: Fagundez signs three-year deal with Austin FC

Diego Fagundez is on the move, and he’s Lone Star State bound.

The Leominster resident and first Homegrown signing of the Revolution has signed with Major League Soccer expansion side Austin FC on a three-year contract, with a league option year that could keep him in Texas through at least 2024.

The club’s Twitter account made the announcement on Tuesday morning.

“Diego is a player in the prime of his career who has scored over 50 goals, played over 250 matches and comes with significant MLS experience. We are fortunate to bring a 25-year-old with vast and proven experience to the club,” Austin FC sporting director and former US international Claudio Reyna said in a club statement. “Diego has played in a number of positions throughout his career and his dynamic positional flexibility is a strength that Austin FC will have the opportunity to benefit from.”

Fagundez said Tuesday afternoon that he is happy to continue his soccer journey, and that the negotiations with Austin went smoothly.

“Once I knew I wasn’t going to be staying, I began thinking, ‘Where am I going to go?’,” he said. “I had interest from Orlando (City), I had interest from Austin, I had interest from Portland. I just wanted to go somewhere where I knew I could play. I told my dad to start making calls.

“We came to an agreement where the numbers were good, which was nice for me knowing they appreciated it, but at the same time, the coaches and the staff wanted me to be there.”

The signing comes four full weeks after the Revolution’s 2020 season came to a close, when the club revealed Fagundez, a 10-year MLS veteran, was out of contract as of New Year’s Eve. Fagundez had said in the aftermath that the club had placed an ultimatum on signing a new contract after offering a two-year contract worth approximately $300,000.

According to Fagundez on Dec. 8, his camp had countered with a figure nearly double that in order to start a negotiation, before the Revs came back with the original offer and a hard Nov. 1 deadline to accept the deal, or test free agency for the first time in his career.

Fagundez, who turns 26 on Feb. 14, made $205,000 per year as part of his last contract, according to the most recent available numbers released by the MLS Players Association.

He scored 54 goals in all competitions for New England to go along with 45 assists, mainly out of the No. 7 position, with a switch to the pivotal No. 10 role in 2018, where he posted his second-highest total of nine goals and 10 assists that season. The last two seasons with the Revolution saw him score three goals, mainly out of a created 6/8 in the defensive midfield.

Fagundez said that Austin head coach Josh Wolff — a former striker with three MLS clubs — wants him to play in the attacking half of the midfield.

“I’ve talked with him a little bit, and he wants me as a No. 7, 10, or 11, anywhere up there,” he said. “He knows I have the potential to attack; the way he expressed to me in the way we’re going to play, we’re going to try to keep the ball and when we have that 1-on-1, take them on. He thought I could do that; it’s kind of nice knowing someone is watching and knows what I have.

“I played against him many times and he knows what I bring to the table.”

Austin FC is the 27th team to enter the league. Austin will play in the Western Conference, and is expected to play the Revolution once in 2021.