When I spoke with Diego Fagundez on Wednesday evening, I had said to him, “You know, there has to be a few coaches in MLS who are positively drooling at the opportunity to sign you (this coming) week.”
His reply? “I hope so.”
And why wouldn’t they? When you look at 54 goals scored in all competitions, with nearly 17,000 minutes in 10 years as a pro — and with several clubs re-building — MLS clubs taking a chance on Fagundez makes a lot of sense. He knows the league, and in some cases could even be a mentor to a young, up-and-coming player; when you get to be 26 when the season begins, you can do that.
While the Fagundez camp already has offers from Mexico, Spain, and his native Uruguay in place, we’re pretty positive that offers from the US and Canadian markets should come when Major League Soccer’s free agency window opens on Wednesday.
And while we don’t know exactly who will offer a contract from MLS, we think these four clubs definitely should — seeing as they could all use an attacking-minded midfield vet in their stable.
When you look at the Orange and Blue’s current roster following the Lions’ year-end decisions, the midfield cupboard for Jaap Stam looks rather bare, outside of Allen Cruz and 2019 SuperDraft overall No. 1 Frankie Amaya.
This is a team that, in its first two seasons in MLS, have just had trouble scoring goals (12 in 2020, 31 in 2019). And when one looks at the 2018 Fagundez had at the No. 10 with the Revolution — Teal Bunbury 11 goals, 4 assists; Cristian Penilla 12/8 — while himself scoring 9 goals and helping on 10 others, it really could be a great fit for DF14, given the fact he wants to play in the attacking half of the field.
I also point out that Fagundez could be a mentor to Amaya. Honestly, Cincinnati could be the best fit, playing wise.
What could I see going wrong? Yeeesh. While Stam is the longest-serving coach with FCC, we wonder when the board will replace him. The only reason why we say this: Fagundez was brought in by one coach (Steve Nicol) as an attacking midfielder, with that carried on by the next two Revs coaches (Jay Heaps, Brad Friedel). Friedel then turned him into a defensive midfielder. We know how that ended.
We bring this up for this alone: if Stam were to bring Fagundez in as an attacking midfielder and he gets the sack, who’s to say the next coach brought in wouldn’t pull a Friedel and Bruce Arena?
Another team that appears to have issues in the midfield. Houston has a trio of Homegrowns, including Memo Rodriguez, in that area. Marcelo Palomino hasn’t seen the pitch much since he signed his contract.
Should Tab Ramos go for him? Absolutely. Fagundez can bring some stability to the Dynamo, but he shouldn’t stop at bringing in DF14. There is the need for more experience in that club’s attack.
Fagundez would have the opportunity to feed Darwin Quintero, who scored seven goals in 2020 and 21 while with Minnesota United, as well as Christian Ramirez.
The ‘Caps are a long shot in my eyes. Yes, they are re-building, but we see a lot of the roster being filled with Homegrown players — including four in the midfield, plus Generation Adidas talent Ryan Raposo.
My question would be: where will Fagundez play?
One would have to think that DF should easily compete for a starting spot in Vancouver. If he can’t, that would mean the ‘Caps are certainly looking toward youth — and Canadian born and bred youth, at that; we can respect that as they try to help build the game there. But like with Amaya, DF could be a mentor to these young pups.
Another positive: potentially helping the Whitecaps return to the top of Canadian soccer. It’s been three years since Vancouver has played in the CONCACAF Champions League, and they were regular participants.
The only thing that may get in the way? The Canadian taxes.
There’s a little girl in Ashburnham who will want her mom to stop talking to me for even mentioning Montreal, but when you look at L’Impact’s roster — and the fact Fagundez could learn from someone who scored well over 300 goals for club and country in Thierry Henry — this might be a no brainer.
When I look at Montreal’s midfield, I’m not necessarily impressed. This is a team that looked destined to miss the playoffs, and in any other year, would have. And with Fagundez anchoring that midfield the way Bojan Krkic should have, I could see an improvement on the part of that side. And again, say it with me… Thierry Freaking Henry. I would love to be a fly on the wall, listening to the two of them talking tactics.
Again, the Canadian taxes would be a pain — but also learning how to speak French in some respects. Thankfully Montreal is a bilingual city.
For me, my winner would be FC Cincinnati. I think the situation in terms of playing time would be perfect — but can they afford him? A question, should FCC put in a bid, that needs an answer.
I can also see him in Montreal.
Where will he land? We shall know soon.