FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As a lethal and skilled young talent, winger Tajon Buchanan has become a stealthy MLS attacker climbing exponentially through the ranks, rising from Syracuse University to the New England Revolution and soon overseas to Belgian side Club Brugge.
“It's very nice to see how far I've come,” said Buchanan. “I'm taking another step forward in my career, trying to push myself as far as possible and I'm super excited and super happy at the same time. I'm ready to finish the season on a strong note and then head over [to Club Brugge] and try and do bigger things.”
Thankfully the 22-year-old will remain with the Revolution through the 2021 MLS season before joining the reigning Belgian champions and 2021-22 UEFA Champions League side. With Club Brugge’s reputation for developing and selling young talent along with the agreement to have Buchanan loaned back to New England, it made this the perfect acquisition for all parties.
“It’s a positive move for sure. Tajon was highly sought-after by a number of clubs,” said Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena.
“Brugge is known for developing young players and moving them on to even bigger clubs and Brugge is also in the [UEFA] Champions League. So, when he goes there in January, he'll be stepping into a team that's in Champions League and that's a great opportunity for a young player like Tajon.”
In his third season with the Revolution, Buchanan has risen through the ranks after being selected No. 9 overall and first by the Revs in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. That day forever impacted Buchanan’s career, leading him to his first professional club and creating opportunities for Buchanan’s raw talent to shine.
“Tajon and I have been on this journey together since our rookie year,” said DeJuan Jones, who was also selected in Buchanan’s draft class and is his close friend as well as roommate. “Right when I got to the hotel in Foxborough, Tajon’s right there.
“Him and I have been on this journey for almost three years now and to see him develop the way he has, it’s really incredible. I’m really excited for him. I know Brugge is a good spot for him.”
Buchanan’s teammates were ecstatic when learning the news of his chance to play for Club Brugge.
“I think it’s a great step for him,” said Ema Boateng. “He’s done everything to deserve that opportunity to move out there. I’m glad that we will have him to finish the season, as well. He’s a great player. He works hard and is a great guy in the locker room.”
Throughout Buchanan’s journey, he has proven any doubters wrong every step of the way.
“You need those messages [of doubt] to motivate you,” said Buchanan after being drafted by the Revolution in 2019. “That was really my motivation during my high school career and during my high school time, because I just wanted to prove all those people wrong.”
Buchanan had an unconventional high school path, moving from Brampton, Ontario to Denver, Colorado and playing competitively with his high school team and training with youth club Real Colorado to enhance his soccer skills.
Buchanan then took a chance on Syracuse University, enrolling in a $250, three-day camp for a chance to showcase his talents to their coaching staff and play at the collegiate level. Luckily, his gamble paid off and he was offered a Syracuse scholarship, where he thrived by receiving Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Freshman Team honors and also being named to the 2018 All-ACC first team before being selected by the Revolution.
But, the best was yet to come.
After his rookie season, Arena had a tough decision to make: should Buchanan play with Revolution II or the first team in the 2020 campaign? Typically, players can bounce between the two. However, with the pandemic protocols, Arena had to make a choice.
As always, Arena knew exactly what he was doing.
After deciding to keep Buchanan with the first team, the midfielder was ultimately one of two players to appear in all 23 games for the Revolution last season. However, it was truly less than a year ago when the Brampton native caught traction.
Buchanan’s first professional goal came on September 12, 2020, at the Philadelphia Union. Fast forward to August 2021, and Buchanan now has nine Revolution goals in all appearances, along with eight assists.
However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg for Buchanan’s triumphs.
Over the course of the last six months, Buchanan has risen at both the league and international levels. After being called up to the Canadian Under-23 Men's National Team in March and the senior roster in June, Buchanan owns nine caps, with five coming in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Buchanan’s impact has been consistent as he was a catalyst driving the team to the Gold Cup semifinals, and he tallied his first senior international goal in the semifinal match against Mexico. Buchanan’s performances earned him the tournament’s Best Young Player Award and also a spot in the Gold Cup Best XI.
MLS couldn’t stop watching Buchanan’s rapid rise.
In fact, MLS commissioner Don Garber specifically noticed the 22-year-old’s standout contributions at all levels, and named him as one of his two picks to the 2021 MLS All-Star roster.
“It’s huge to see that my qualities have been paying off and my game is being recognized throughout the league,” said Buchanan. “For my efforts to be recognized by him, it’s huge. I’m extremely honored and proud.”
With his breakout 2021 season, Buchanan now takes the biggest step yet signing with Club Brugge.
“I've been thinking about my future for a very long time,” said Buchanan. “And since the beginning, Club Brugge just felt like a family that I wanted to join. I'm super excited to be joining them in January."
However, Buchanan knows he has unfinished business in New England before he leaves in the new year.
“Right now, I'm focused on what's happening right now,” said Buchanan.
“This is my last year here so I'm trying to win everything that's possible: Supporters' Shield, Eastern Conference, and MLS Cup. We have the talent and the fight in this group to do that and everyone knows what we have to do to achieve those things. We've just got to keep it game-by-game and keep doing what we've been doing.”