FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Noel Buck (17 years, 152 days) became the second-youngest goal scorer in New England Revolution history in Sunday night’s 3-0 win over New York City FC, and if the Arlington, Mass., native is being honest, it’s all happening a bit quicker than he’d anticipated.
“I mean, a couple of weeks ago I was with the second team,” Buck said shortly after receiving the game ball, autographed by his teammates to mark the occasion. “Luckily, I got my chance, and luckily, I took it.”
Buck’s progression from Academy starlet to second team starter to first team contributor has had very little to do with luck, but it’s true that his ascent has been rapid. He signed his MLS contract this past January and after joining the Revs for preseason, spent the bulk of the first half of the year training and playing with Revolution II in MLS NEXT Pro. Buck made 15 appearances with Revs II, including as recently as August 7, making the first team matchday squad just four times without seeing game action.
Injuries and absences opened the door for the teenaged midfielder, however, and Buck made his MLS debut on August 13 with a 27-minute substitute appearance. He followed that up with his first start on August 31, and on Sunday night, his first goal, a left-footed rocket from outside the box.
Just don’t ask Buck to describe the goal, because he doesn’t remember much about it.
“Obviously, it’s been a tiring week,” Buck said after totaling 172 minutes in an eight-day span. “I’ve gotten a lot more minutes than I have been in past weeks. So, it was obviously the third game of the week, obviously so tiring anyway. But in terms of the goal, I mean I don’t remember like anything really. I think the one point I do remember is right after it went in, I didn’t go celebrate right away. I was just like, ‘I just did that.’”
Sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena has lauded Buck for his confidence despite limited experience at the MLS level, and that self-belief was on full display with his goal. With the Revs leading 1-0 in the 33rd minute, Buck received a pass from Maciel, took two touches to turn into space, and set himself up for a go from 22 yards. No hesitation. No doubt.
“I know I have a good shot, and I was told many times to shoot,” said Buck, now older than only Diego Fagundez (16 years, 173 days) on the Revs’ historical goal-scoring charts. “When you get an opportunity like that, you’ve got do shoot.”
“A very good goal,” added Arena. “He hit the wall a little bit physically. Maybe his passing could be a little bit better, but for a young kid with very little experience at this level, he is doing well.”
Buck’s big moment came in front of his mom and several of his friends, though his dad wasn’t at Gillette Stadium as he’s currently in Washington, D.C., to watch Noel’s older brother Joe. also a former Revolution Academy standout and current midfielder for Georgetown University.
“You’ve got to always make sure both brothers are loved,” Buck joked.
It was an emotional evening for Buck, and that emotion poured out of him as he celebrated his fantastic finish, a celebration he said included a bit of relief “that one of (his) chances finally went in,” that after he’d played less than 200 minutes at the MLS level.
And as that emotion rushed out and Buck’s teammates mobbed him in front of The Fort, a familiar song blared from the Gillette Stadium sound system: “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, unveiled in that moment as the goal song personally chosen by Buck.
“Who doesn’t like Taylor Swift?” Buck asked with a smile that likely won’t be leaving his face for quite some time.