Michael Bustamante (Chelsea, Mass.) was considered among the brightest young prospects in Major League Soccer when he joined the New York Red Bulls in 2013.
Now, Bustamante has become one of the NPSL’s youngest coaches after being named to guide Boston City FC on Wednesday. Bustamante, 29, replaces former Brazilian national team star Palhinha, who resigned last year after coaching BCFC during its first three seasons.
“I’m definitely excited for the new opportunity,” Bustamante said. “My [playing] career is past me and I’m 100 percent focused on coaching.”
Bustamante performed alongside Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips at RBNY, but sustained an anterior collateral ligament injury in 2014. Bustamante returned to play for the Charlotte Independence in 2015 and Boston City in 2016, the team’s first season.
“It wasn’t as long as I’d hoped for,” Bustamante said of his playing career. “Once you get injured it’s a little tougher. U.S. soccer is a tough environment for a player dealing with an injury – any league is. Soccer is still developing and growing here and it’s my job to move on and continue to grow my coaching career. Being at home is appealing to me. I started my youth career and college career in Boston I want to contribute my little bit to the sport’s development.”
Bustamante arrived from Medellin, Colombia, with his parents when he was 11 and went on to play for Chelsea High School, the Boston Bolts and Boston University.
“My parents felt my sister and I would have a better chance for an education and have a better future here, and I don’t think they were wrong,” Bustamante said. “Very early on, I knew soccer was what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about. When you find that and put the determination and commitment into it, good things happen.”
Bustamante played for former Revolution defender Francis Okaroh with the Bolts and at BU under Neil Roberts, whose assistants included Okaroh.
“I played midfield my whole life, and I was known for being technical and good on the ball,” Bustamante said. “I believe in having players who know how to treat the ball well and move the ball around, a possession-based game. I was never physical, never the fastest, strongest guy. I firmly believe in having good tactics and players with good technical ability.”
Bustamante helped BCFC compile a 10-3-3 record in its first season.
“The first year was the most successful year Boston City has had,” Bustamante said. “We accomplished a lot, and as a player experiencing what the club was doing and trying to accomplish, it was special, and one of the reasons I tried to get involved in coaching.
“I believe we have room to grow and we have a lot of success ahead of us. If I can help and be on the inside now as a coach, I want to help us continue to grow and develop.”
Fagundez laments Revs’ home-opener
Diego Fagundez (Leominster, Mass.) took the New England Revolution’s 2-0 loss to Columbus Crew SC on Saturday especially hard. Fagundez, who had not lost a home-opener since joining the club in 2011, had an opportunity to equalize, but missed a penalty kick.
“I had a chance to tie up the game and couldn’t complete my goal,” Fagundez said before practice this week. “It hurts. I know I went home and I was hurt because I could’ve helped out the team but couldn’t make it happen. But we all have to move on. It’s a long season so we have to move on to the next one. We have another one in Toronto [on Sunday] and we have to be focused and make sure we perform better than last game.”
The Revolution earned the penalty as Fagundez slid a free kick toward Wilfried Zahibo, who went down in a clash with center back Gaston Sauro. In pre-game planning, the penalty kick candidates included Teal Bunbury, Carles Gil and Cristian Penilla.
Bunbury was on the field when the kick was awarded, but Penilla had been benched after halftime. Concurrently, Gil was recovering from a Sauro foul. The Spaniard returned to the field, though Fagundez was already setting up the penalty kick.
“I felt comfortable with it,” Fagundez said. “I thought I was playing well and to try to score the first goal. I asked Teal if I could have it. Unlucky on me – we all miss some once in a while so you can’t be bummed on ourselves. We just have to keep going forward and make sure something like that doesn’t bring us down.”
Fagundez sent the penalty kick low to the left, but U.S. national team goalie Zack Steffen made a diving save. That would be the Revs’ best opportunity to find an equalizer.
“I went out there to try and help the team, try to get a spark going,” Fagundez said. “I thought I did that. You get little chances and give it all you have. I thought I was doing well but it still wasn’t enough and we need to get better. I don’t think either team maybe deserved the win, but at home we should be getting the win.”
Before the Crew defeat, New England’s home-opening unbeaten streak was at 12 games (8-0-4), dating back to a 2006 meeting with the Chicago Fire.
Boston City midfielders Samuel Deossa (Watertown, Mass.) and Christopher Gilbert, as well as defender Jeremy Pachter, will train at the team’s academy in Manhuaçu, Brazil, starting this week. They are expected to return for the NPSL opener at Hartford City on April 27.
Felipe Cypriano (Malden, Mass.), a Bryant College starting midfielder last season, is also training with BCFC in Manguaçu. Cypriano played for Boston City youth teams, the Boston Bolts and Malden High School.
Hartford Athletic fell, 2-0, to Atlanta United 2 in its USL debut in Kennesaw, Ga., last weekend.
The Atlanta back line included former UConn defender Sergio Campbell and Florentin Pogba, brother of Manchester United’s Paul Pogba. For Hartford, Providence College forward Mac Steeves (Needham, Mass.) entered as a 76th-minute substitute for Jose Angulo.
New Mexico United, owned by former Boston College linebacker Peter Trevisani, gained a 1-1 draw with Fresno FC in its USL debut before 12,896 fans.
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