Coach Jay Heaps and the Revolution knew they were getting a skilled offensive striker when Juan Agudelo arrived in a May 7 trade.
They probably didn’t expect Agudelo to be this good, this soon, though.
Agudelo has played in the Revolution’s last two Major League Soccer games, and scored goals in both. Each capped 2-0 victories, the first two-game win streak of the season for New England, which puts that on the line Sunday afternoon when the powerhouse Los Angeles Galaxy visit Gillette Stadium.
It hasn’t all been Agudelo, obviously. One of the league’s best defenses is playing well, the Revolution are getting solid goalkeeping from Bobby Shuttleworth, and 18-year-old Diego Fagundez has actually done Agudelo one better, scoring goals in three straight MLS games. But for anyone wondering how the native of Colombia — who’s been a member of the US national team — might fit in with the Revolution, wonder no more.
“I don’t mean to say this so early, but this is probably the best group of guys that I’ve been able to hang out with,” Agudelo said. “I’m really happy to be here, most importantly. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t really have any expectations coming in, but right now I’m happy to be with the team.
“I just came here trying to do what I was asked to come here for, which is help the team get some wins, by doing what a striker does: creating chances, maybe getting assists, and maybe scoring. So far everything’s been good, and most importantly the chemistry between me and my teammates has improved.”
That’s been evident on the field. Agudelo scored in his Revolution debut, in the second half of a 2-0 win at Houston May 18. He added another a week later, taking an end-line pass from Saer Sene and tapping the ball with his right foot into the Toronto net during second-half stoppage time.
Those things, Revolution fans can easily see. But Agudelo’s influence has also been in areas that aren’t as noticeable, according to Heaps.
“First and foremost, he does everything for the team. He does all the little things, the hard work, gets his toes in, defending on top of the box. Right away, players buy into what he’s doing,” Heaps said. “His ability around the box, he’s really crafty, he’s really got good body control. The two goals he’s scored have been, to me, pretty incredible goals, because he’s kind of leaning, just getting his body in there, just getting enough on it, and those are what goal scorers do, they find a way, and he’s doing it.”
How was such a prolific goal scorer available in a trade, especially someone only 20 years old? Agudelo has been dealt twice in the past 13 months, first from the New York Red Bulls to Chivas USA, and now to New England. He’s scored everywhere he’s played: six goals for New York, five for Chivas, two now in New England. In 17 games with the US national team, he’s scored twice.
The credentials are certainly there. And despite the frequent moving, he’s happy to be here.
“It’s just a situation where, the way my contract is set up, and my option to not sign a new contract yet, it leaves teams to want to receive something before they can’t get anything,” said Agudelo, who was brought to the Revolution in exchange for allocation money.
Will he consider staying?
“We’ll see how everything works out,” Agudelo said, “but right now I am extremely happy, and I’m getting along great with the guys.”
He might need to continue his strong play if the Revolution want to push their win streak to three games. The Galaxy are the two-time defending MLS champions, and even if they don’t have David Beckham anymore, they still feature Landon Donovan, and have scored four goals in two of their last three games.