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New England Revolution

A tale of 2 playmakers: New England’s Diego Fagundez and the Red Bulls’ Kaku

Playmakers Diego Fagundez (l.) of the New England Revolution and Kaku of the New York Red Bulls will go head-to-head Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.

HANOVER, N.J. — When the New York Red Bulls look for ways to describe what makes New England Revolution playmaker Diego Fagundez so dangerous, they don’t need to go far. 

They just have to look inside their own locker room.

“He floats around and finds spaces, much like Kaku does for us,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “He can operate high and pops underneath, and that’s always difficult to deal with.”

It is certainly an interesting comparison, one that will be on display when the teams meet at 7 p.m. ET Saturday night at Red Bull Arena. Both are South American-born flashy playmakers — Fagundez from Uruguay and Kaku born in Argentina, although he’s now a Paraguayan international.

Both are also 23, though Fagundez remarkably has been a figure in Major League Soccer since making his debut in 2011 after becoming the first Homegrown player signed by the Revs a year earlier.

“To me, a lot of it runs through Fagundez,” Red Bulls captain Luis Robles said. “This guy, it’s crazy, he’s 23, 24 years old, he’s like an [eight]-year vet, and it speaks to his quality as a player. He continues to be the engine that runs this team, and if we’re not aware of him — like he scored on us the first game — he can punish us very quickly.”Fagundez didn’t always play as New England’s No. 10, but his success in that role this season made Lee Nguyen expendable.

Kaku, meanwhile, is in his first season playing in Major League Soccer after spending four and a half seasons with Huracán in Argentina. His transition has been seamless, leading MLS with 11 assists in 15 games to go along with three goals.

If anything, that might speak to the biggest difference between the two players. Fagundez is more comfortable going for goals — he has seven goals and seven assists this season and has scored in back-to-back games heading into Saturday night’s showdown at Red Bull Arena.

His production this year, and throughout his career, has been more balanced. He’s two goals from 50 in his career and has 38 assists.

“He’s one of those crafty, unpredictable players that’s super hard to defend,” Tyler Adams said. “He’s small, he’s agile, and those are the toughest players to play against. Kind of like Kaku in a sense, where they’re always on the move, always trying to make a difference.”

Adams and Sean Davis will be tasked with trying to disrupt Fagundez, who has already scored once against the Red Bulls this season in a 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium last month.

“Just in general, whoever is around him on the day, it’s important to try and shut him down,” Adams said. “The less that he can create, the less that they create.”

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