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Diego Fagundez leaves Revolution and signs with expansion Austin team

Diego Fagundez (right) played in 261 MLS games with the Revolution.
Diego Fagundez (right) played in 261 MLS games with the Revolution.Matthew J. Lee

In 2010, the Revolution were concerned that they could lose Diego Fagundez to offers from foreign clubs. So they signed him to a contract, though he was a 15-year-old freshman in high school.

Just more than 10 years later, after playing 261 MLS games, Fagundez has officially left the Revolution, joining Austin FC as a free agent.

At the end of the season, Fagundez announced he would pursue free agency after declining the Revolution’s offer of a contract worth about $300,000 annually. Fagundez sought to at least double his salary — he had been earning $205,000 annually on a five-year contract, according to the MLS Players Association — and he said Austin FC came close to doing that.

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“We went back and forth a few times and met in the middle,” Fagundez said. “I didn’t really get that chance [to negotiate] here.

“But it is bittersweet. I’m sad to be leaving after 10 years, but I’m excited about this and I look forward to being in front of new coaches and starting from zero. I had so many coaches in the last 10 years it’s crazy, but I never got the opportunity of starting fresh after [Brad] Friedel left.

“I want to bring back the Diego of 2013 and ’14. I know I still have a lot of that. I’ve been playing positions I never played in my life, where I’m not comfortable. [But] I always want to be on the field so I always go out there and do my best.”

Fagundez said Austin coach Josh Wolff plans to try him in a No. 10 position or on the left wing.

Diego Fagundez, center, is on the move, headed for Austin.
Diego Fagundez, center, is on the move, headed for Austin.Darryl Dyck

“He likes the fact I go at people one-on-one,” said Fagundez, “so I can mentally prepare to be doing that, instead of I have to play defense and get the ball to our No. 10.”

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Orlando City also made an offer to Fagundez, and the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers showed interest, he said.

“One thing I’m actually excited about is the fishing, hunting, hiking,” said Fagundez, a dedicated outdoorsman. “I don’t know if I’m going to miss the cold.”

When Fagundez, now 25, started training with the Revolution first team, he had to be driven by his father, Washington, from Leominster to Foxborough. Since then, Washington has been acting as his son’s agent, and he capitalized on free agency options only recently negotiated by the MLSPA.

Fagundez had equaled Shalrie Joseph in regular-season appearances and hoped to break the tie. But after passing the Revolution’s Nov. 1 deadline to re-sign, Fagundez did not play again after a 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls Oct. 28.

Last season, Fagundez played 19 games (nine starts) and scored once, upping his totals to 282 games (all competitions) and 54 goals, third on the all-time team list.

Fagundez scored his first goal and also earned a penalty kick in his regular-season debut, a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA at Gillette Stadium in 2011. In 2013, Fagundez totaled 13 goals, becoming the youngest player (18) to lead the team in scoring. After that, Fagundez seldom lined up as a striker, or in his preferred position (attacking midfielder).

Fagundez’s technical ability and versatility enabled him to play several positions, but probably limited his statistical contributions.

Fagundez, born in Montevideo, was called in to US junior camps but was ineligible to play for the team, instead performing for Uruguay’s U-20 national team.

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National duty

Two Revolution players have been called in to train with the US men’s national team.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner and defender Henry Kessler will join the team at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and practice with it from Jan. 9-24. Turner, 26, will join the senior team and Kessler, 22, will join the U-23 squad.

This is Turner’s third career call. In 2020, he was one of the top netminders in MLS, posting a career-high six shutouts and a team-record 1.09 GAA. Turner owns a 24-21-23 record since joining New England before the 2016 season.

New England goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) will be spending some time with the U.S. men's national team.
New England goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) will be spending some time with the U.S. men's national team.Matt Stamey/Associated Press

Kessler, a center back, made his MLS debut in 2020. He was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 SuperDraft, out of the University of Virginia, and played in 22 game (19 starts).

Kessler led the Revolution in possessions won, clearances, interceptions, and tackles won. He was named Revolution Defender of the Year, the first rookie to win the award since 2011.

Globe correspondent Brandon Chase contributed to this report.