FOXBOROUGH — Though wary of placing undue expectations upon him, the Revolution recognized forward Diego Fagundez as an important part of the future by signing the homegrown 18-year-old prospect to a multiyear contract extension Wednesday.
“We know he’s only 18 years old, but we feel that he has the potential to become a regular first-team player for us,’’ said Revolution general manager Michael Burns. “That’s what we’re hoping for and that’s what he’s hoping for. The fact he wanted to remain here, it was one of those situations where it made sense for both sides.
“He’s a guy that we wanted to try and lock in — I want to say ‘long term,’ but even when his current deal expires, he’ll still be a young player,’’ Burns said. “But the timing was right for us, and it was obviously right for him.’’
Fagundez, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but raised in Leominster, was 15 years (and 273 days) old when he originally signed a Homegrown deal with the Revolution Nov. 15, 2010, becoming the third-youngest player to sign an MLS contract.
“It’s exciting, because at 18 not everyone gets two contracts in four years — three years, I guess,’’ said Fagundez, who was developed through the Revolution Academy following a stellar two-year career on their Under-16 team.
Fagundez, who hopes to complete both his junior and senior years of high school this season, had two years remaining on his original pact. But he eschewed the opportunity to let it expire and test the open market, opting instead to remain with the MLS franchise that gave him his big break.
“What you want your fans to understand and soccer fans to really understand is that this is a process and he’s only 18,’’ said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “If he was in college, he might be starting his freshman year.
“We have to take that into account when we’re giving him the minutes, when we’re traveling with him, when we’re asking him to finish high school and play professionally.’’
Fagundez made his MLS debut Aug. 6, 2011, as a substitute against Chivas USA at Gillette Stadium, becoming the second-youngest player in MLS history (16 years, 173 days) to score a goal in that game.
Since then, Fagundez has played in 27 games and started 11, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Last season, he made 20 appearances, including eight starts, and scored two goals with a pair of assists.
“He’s only started 11 games for the Revs and played in 27, but the collective feeling amongst the organization is that he only has an upside,’’ Burns said.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.