Diegooooool!!! Capital City Soccer Writers Share 6 Moments Where Diego Fagundez Gave Us Joy and Won Our Hearts

As the initial shock of Diego Fagundez’s trade begins to wear off (we think…at any rate he’s already training with his new team), we here at Capital City Soccer felt the need to remember the moments that endeared Diego to our Verde hearts. Diego Fagundez was never our best player (that would be Sebastian Driussi), our most important player this season (see: Dani Pereira), or the player that elicits the coolest crowd reaction (STUUUUUUUUU).

But you’d be hard pressed to find a loyal Austin FC supporter that doesn’t acknowledge that Diego Fagundez was our most clutch player, our most beloved player, and connected with our fans on a level that no one else did. In short, Diego Fagundez is Austin FC’s most iconic player to date.

He was clutch when we needed him to be, and beyond his connection to Austin and Austin FC supporters, these were the moments that cemented his status as an icon. Our picks:

April 24, 2021 – The First Goal and DenVERDE

When it was announced that Major League Soccer was coming to Austin, we all waited excitedly for what was to come. April of 2021 finally rolled around, and after an opening day 2-0 loss to LAFC, the Verde & Black traveled to Colorado in search of their first goal and win.

The Rapids pounded on the door for the majority of the first half, creating chances left and right. Andre Shinyashiki got on the end of a corner to put the Rapids in front after 35 minutes had been played, and it felt like Austin would come away without any points despite the fight the team had shown.

Then, a switch flipped.

Like so many times in Austin FC’s history, when their backs are up against the wall, they create magic out of nothing.

Jared Stroud pushed the ball up the wing and drove a hopeful cross in, it clattered around in the box before falling to a completely unmarked Diego Fagundez at the back post, who coolly slotted it home like he would do so many times for Austin FC.

The goal was a culmination of years of hard work, both to bring a team to Austin and to put it all together. It wasn’t the prettiest or most spectacular of goals, but it opened the account for Austin FC and got the ball rolling. It opened the floodgates that night, as Austin FC completed the comeback with two goals later on to seal their first victory.

But what I remember the most, is the sheer joy radiating from the Austin supporters who had made the trek to cheer on the verde and black, who gave a preview for how Q2 stadium would feel when it would open in a few months time.

There’s only one first goal a club can score, and I’m proud that Fagundez was the one to score it. His presence – on and off the pitch – will be sorely missed in Austin.

-Matt Hostick

October 30, 2021 – The Curler at FC Dallas
While the 2021 season was certainly a historic one for Austin FC, the history wasn’t exactly being made on the pitch. Coming into an end-of-season matchup against possibly the club’s biggest rival in FC Dallas, Austin was far from contention, sitting fourteenth in the west with eight wins, four draws, and 18 losses. 

Despite the low stakes of the game, Austin showed some promise in the first half, and finally found their go-ahead goal around the half hour mark. Then-captain Alex Ring launched a long ball to Fagundez, who controlled it well, worked across the outside of the box, and unleashed a beautiful, curling strike past the outstretched arms of the keeper. 

While this goal may have seemed like a decent shot in a meaningless game that would end in a 2-1 loss for the Verde & Black, the goal meant much more to me as a fan. 
Growing up in Austin, I had never really been much of a soccer fan, as I was much more concerned with the other type of football, among other sports. When Austin got an expansion team, I figured I’d give it a try, and went to one game in the first season, more so to experience the novelty than to start a fandom. 

I remember this game, however, because it was the first Austin FC game that I tuned into on TV. After seeing the goal and the match, I decided that Diego was my favorite player. I then attended the very next game in Austin, and I became hooked on following my hometown club.

While this one late-season goal between two poor teams wasn’t the sole reason I follow Austin FC today, it certainly was a major part in introducing me to a new sport and a new fandom. Diego’s time in Austin will always be remembered for his ability to connect the city to their new franchise, both with his skill on the pitch and his personality off of it.

-Harris Pemberton

May 18, 2022 – The ‘Rabona Assist’ at LAFC
The beginning of the 2022 MLS season was literally a dream start for Los Verdes as they kicked off the campaign with 20 out of a possible 27 points. After two straight losses to Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, the boys paid a midweek visit to big bad LAFC. Up to that point, there were legitimate questions about Austin’s start…was it a fluke, or was this team for real?

Austin FC took all three points that night (and sole possession of 1st place in the Western Conference) in a performance that legitimized them as contenders for the Supporters Shield.

I decided to watch the match at Parlor & Yard on West 6th for the official Los Verdes watch party. Was it a super late kickoff? Yes (9:30pm). Did I have to work the next day? Yes. Did I have the time of my life? Also, yes, thanks in large part to this beauty of a goal.

After a true team effort that saw the Verde & Black score a first half goal and take an early lead, Austin FC doubled its lead with a Fagundez goal and Driussi assist. Or better stated, ‘the rabona assist.’

Was the pass that sprung Diego better than the goal? I mean, in the video that Major League Soccer ended up posting on their Instagram account, you can hear the fan yell, “What a f——- ball!” So, yes, maybe the pass was better than the goal.

But I’ve seen enough football in my life to know that a pass of that quality doesn’t always get converted. Diego didn’t hit the post. Diego didn’t send the ball into orbit. Diego Fagundez did exactly what I knew he would do: find the back of the net when we needed it the most.

-Cris Rubio

July 16, 2022 – Diego Secures the First Trophy
2022 was a year that was wildly successful for Austin FC. They were connecting on and off the pitch in ways that made you feel like this team had each other’s backs through thick and thin.

They were seeing uncharted territory as a new club as only in their second season they found themselves in a title race for the Supporters Shield with LAFC, and found themselves competing with FC Dallas for the Copa Tejas Trophy.

They went up to Frisco only needing a win or draw to come out as Copa Tejas champions. A moment that would signal to the state that it runs through us, and a signal to the league that we are in it to win trophies. 

After going down 1-0 in the first half on a Paul Arriola goal, Diego Fagundez came out and scored the equalizer in the 78th minute.

The game would end in a 1-1 draw and the Verde and Black were declared winners of Copa Tejas.

This would be the first trophy for the club, and first celebration for the fans as the traveling supporters partied with the players in the Frisco parking lot. 

This felt like a moment that connected the club even more with its fans, and isn’t that what Diego did best? Being clutch and uniting this fanbase with the team? I think so, and he will be dearly missed as he moves on in his career. 

-Adam Byerly

August 26, 2022 – Diego’s Free Kick Under the Friday Night Lights vs LAFC

To truly appreciate the magnitude of Diego’s moment in this match last August, let me set the stage.

LAFC was No. 1 in the West. Austin FC sat in second place, continuing to dismay doubters and xG theorists. It was 26 weeks into the season and this match really, really mattered. 

Earlier that week, Austin FC’s newest designated player Emiliano Rigoni had arrived. In his introductory press conference, Rigoni proclaimed, “Los Angeles doesn’t scare me, at all.”

While Emi didn’t in fact make the matchday roster, Los Angeles rolled out their own star—Gareth Bale—his first start in Major League Soccer. ESPN and a national audience were all-in for this one.

At Q2 Stadium, Verde & Black faithful were buzzing under the Friday Night Lights. There was a nervous energy in our section in the Northwest corner. I mean, at this point we handed LAFC their only home loss back in May. Could we do the unthinkable and pull off the dub a second time?

The opening minutes of the game were a cagey affair, with tackles flying in from both teams early. It didn’t take long for Sebastián Driussi to make them pay. Druissi beat LAFC’s Eddie Segura on the dribble, Segura elbowed Driussi in the face. Yellow card. Free kick ATX in the 30th minute. 

The ball was placed a few yards behind the penalty arc. Diego Fagúndez stepped up to take it.

The rest is history, as they say. 

Diego smashed the 25-yard free kick, curling it over the wall and right under the crossbar past goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau!

Our little corner of the stadium went wild. Diego seemingly ran right into our arms in his celebration. He had made a beeline to the flag with Gallagher draped on his back. Driussi, Lima, Pereira, Finlay, and others smothered him in hugs. Fans all around were going out of their minds. 

Diego dazzled. What a night.

-Troy Bryant

June 21, 2023 – The Perfect Chip
When you saw him show up with that hot pink hair, you kind of knew…

After being on fire for the whole 2022 season, no one could have predicted that Diego’s first goal (and ultimately his only goal of the MLS season) would have to wait until June.  But 2023 has been the year of the injury, and Diego has not been immune, so it would take just that long. But oh, was it worth the wait!!!!

With the prospect of being forced to give the club’s first and only piece of silverware back to FC Frisco – a trophy procured by Diego’s own theatrics the year before – he showed up and showed out when it mattered most to the supporters.

Diego’s chip from the left flank was a reminder to all of his quality: at any moment Diego is always capable of doing something truly special with the ball.  It was such a perfect shot!

The sublime arching chip bypassed the entire Dallas defense and the goalie’s straining, outstretched paw and bulged the back of the net.

It was the perfect response to fake Jesus Ferreira’s gross disrespect of our supporters the month before.

A goal of this quality could not have come at a more perfect time for Austin’s season.  It gave us hope that despite all the struggles, we could maintain our status here in Texas, make a run in the second half of this season, and that when the final story was written on this season, the Verde faithful would hold our heads up high in the end.

-Adam Ribbeck

Cover image courtesy Austin FC

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