When Diego Fagundez signed onto the new Austin FC program, the 26-year-old midfielder was eager for a fresh start, and it paid off—on Wednesday, Fagundez was given the team's first Offensive Player of the Year award.
Already a decade into his MLS career, Fagundez became a surprise standout in Austin, tying for the most goals on the team and becoming a fan favorite after scoring the club's first goal back in April.
Fagundez has made headlines before—at 15, he joined the New England Revolution before he could even drive to practice and later became the youngest player to reach 200 appearances in the league.
In his first professional appearance, Fagundez made himself known just 20 minutes in as he scored his first goal. And in similar fashion, Fagundez made a mark early on in the Austin FC program as he scored the team's first-ever goal just two matches into the inaugural season.
THIS. RIGHT. HERE.
History for our Club. History for the ATX. pic.twitter.com/FepuI4pgVx
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 25, 2021
"In my head that day, I said to myself, make sure you do something that people will recognize your name," Fagundez said. "I come to a new team, and I want to do the same thing. I want people to know who I am and what I what I'm capable of."
A man of the fans, Fagundez threw up the "LV" to recognize supporters' group Los Verdes, an insignia he would later get shaved onto his head.
Although Austin's first season results were anticlimactic for some—the team finished 12th out of 13 teams in the Western Conference and 24th overall—Fagundez and his signature bleach-blond hair shone as a bright spot. An unexpected team leader, Fagundez cemented a starting spot on the team and became known for his relentless hustle as he tallied seven goals and five assists (also tied with a team-best) in his 33 club appearances.
In the second to last match of the season, Fagundez again made history as he became the second-youngest MLS player to earn 50 career goals and assists.
Fans have been unanimously supportive of Fagundez's postseason awards.
"Dude was all over the field every game," fan Sara Niño-Carachure said. "I really enjoyed watching him play."
You can tell he plays for the joy of the game. Love his authenticity - and he always brings 100%
— Chris Hartle (@clhartle) November 17, 2021
Austin is home for Fagundez—he's had Los Verdes members babysit his two young kids, watched them learn about "The World's Game" from within Q2 Stadium walls and is eager to spend more seasons in Verde.
"This whole family of Los Verdes and all the awesome Austin fans is just amazing," Fagundez told Austonia. "It's like one big, happy family."
And Fagundez isn't the only one getting recognized with post-season awards—on Monday, keeper Brad Stuver, a surprise star himself, was named a finalist for the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year awards. Stuver, his wife Ashley and one fan's quest for a Verde keeper kit this spring led to a huge influx of donations for The Laundry Project, a charity that helps provide free laundry services to those in need.
Great players. Better people. 👏
This group made impacts both on the pitch and in the community. pic.twitter.com/oSILKr7xzl
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 15, 2021
The Stuvers and other Austin FC-affiliated families will head to Quik Wash, 9414 Parkfield Drive, on Saturday to provide free laundry services, detergent and fabric softener to low-income families.
And Head Coach Josh Wolff is a finalist for the 2022 National Hall of Fame after a storied career. In addition to a season with the Bundesliga's 1860 Munich and two FIFA World Cup appearances with the U.S. mens' national team, Wolff scored 109 goals in the MLS, winning an MLS Cup, three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups and earning two MLS All-Star awards in 14 seasons. Wolff was also a protege of USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and spent five years as assistant coach at Columbus Crew SC.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.