Diego Fagundez wants to remain with the Revolution, the team he joined as a 15-year-old in 2010. But Fagundez said he is moving on because the Revolution’s contract offer was not sufficient, and he was given an ultimatum to sign.
“They made an offer and we made a counter-offer and they said I had to sign by Nov. 1 or the deal was off,” Fagundez said Wednesday. “There was no negotiation.”
Fagundez, earning $205,000 annually, according to the MLS Players Union, becomes a free agent at the end of the month. He said the Revolution proposed a raise, but it was minimal.
“It wasn’t a [pay] cut,” Fagundez said. “They went up but it wasn’t what I wanted. It’s not $800,000 or $1 million that I [wanted], but I’ve been playing for free for this club and had a lot of fun doing it, giving my all, but it was time I put my foot down.
“But it wasn’t the numbers I wasn’t happy with. I think the numbers could be a little better for me [because] of everything I’ve given to this club. It was more the pressure of signing that threw me.”
Fagundez earned the MLS minimum salary early in his career, then signed a five-year deal in 2016. His total earnings are less than $1.5 million over 10 years. Fagundez was the 13th-highest paid player on the team last year.
Fagundez was talking after the Revolution’s final team meeting, three days after a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference final.
“I was very emotional when I left the training ground,” said Fagundez, who made the one-hour drive from Leominster to Gillette Stadium with his father, Washington, from age 13 until 16. “I kind of felt like crying. It’s been 10 years and I gave everything to the team, and for it to be over, it’s a sad day. But it’s important people don’t think I didn’t want to be here.”
On Tuesday, Fagundez used social media to announce he was leaving the Revolution.
Asked about Fagundez’ status Wednesday, Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said: “He’s exercising his right in free agency and he’s going to test the waters. I think about a month and a half ago or two months [ago], we offered him a new contract for a couple of years.”
Fagundez said the offer was made on Oct. 1. Fagundez and his father, acting as his agent, made a counter offer Oct. 16. The Revolution replied on Oct. 20 that Fagundez had until Nov. 1 to sign.
“I really don’t know, I have mixed feelings about whether they want me or don’t want me,” Fagundez said. “We felt they put pressure on us to sign whatever deal they wanted us to sign by [Nov. 1]. We could have had this [negotiation] now.”
Fagundez was left off the game day roster for the first three games of the playoffs, then traveled to Columbus but did not play in the match. Fagundez made 19 appearances (nine starts) and scored once this season, upping his totals to 261 games (tied with Shalrie Joseph for first on the all-time team list) and 53 goals.
“[Arena] told me, ‘You’re doing great, Diego, but since you’re not coming back we’re putting players on the field who are going to come back,’ " Fagundez said. “He told me, ‘Don’t worry about this, everything will get sorted.’
“I understand it’s a business and that’s why I haven’t made problems. If you don’t make the ’18′ [game-day lineup], I never questioned it, I just go and train hard, and if the opportunity is there I go and take that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been having my best years. But they haven’t been putting me on the field, so it’s hard to show how good I can be. Playing different positions, you are never going to be as good as you are playing your position. I always gave 110 percent for the team. I thought every time I stepped on the field I was doing well. I had an opportunity to break a record and it was not fair that I didn’t, but I took it like a champ.”
Fagundez said he has interest from teams in Mexico, Spain, and Uruguay, and hopes to hear from MLS teams.
“There’s always a chance,” Fagundez said of remaining with the Revolution. “I love New England. My house is here, my family, my kids grew up here. But it’s kind of hard to be there, especially after you don’t get to dress the last four weeks of the year, you miss important games. And not feeling like they needed me. I thank the organization for taking a chance on me, thank the Krafts, they gave me a chance to make my dreams come true and be the person I am, thank the fans, and see where the journey takes me.”