CHICAGO – Adam Buksa called the 2020 season “a year full of experience” as the young forward adjusted to a new club, a new league, and a new country in the midst of a pandemic that turned most aspects of daily life upside down. With that year of experience under his belt and a foundation built in New England, the 24-year-old expects to be a more comfortable and confident player in 2021.
Those expectations met reality on Saturday night at Soldier Field as Buksa not only scored the New England Revolution’s first goal of the season in their 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire FC, but also found himself heavily involved in the Revs’ attack throughout the 90 minutes.
“He’s a handful,” said center back Andrew Farrell. “I think he really came in sharp this year, is a big threat on set pieces, but also his holdup play was really great for us. Him and Gustavo [Bou] did a very good job holding the ball up for us at times, and causing havoc for their center backs and defenders.”
Farrell also mentioned Buksa’s form in preseason, when he registered three goals and also drew a penalty in just four appearances, while head coach Bruce Arena agreed that Buksa’s performance on Saturday night was a positive early sign after an up-and-down 2020 campaign.
“It was a better start this year than last year,” Arena said. “He got us an important goal, he battled hard on the night, and I think we’ve seen some improvement out of Adam.”
The timing of Buksa’s goal on Saturday night was critical as the Revs fell behind 2-0 inside 11 minutes, a potentially devastating development to begin the season. But by the 14th minute Buksa had cut the deficit in half, calming the Revolution’s nerves and providing the impetus for Bou’s equalizer in the 27th minute as the Revs worked their way back into the game.
New England will also be encouraged by the method of Buksa’s goal, a towering header from Carles Gil’s inch-perfect corner kick. It was evidence of Buksa’s superior aerial ability after the 6-foot-3 striker scored just twice with his head last season, partially down to Gil’s extended absence because of injury.
“Carles is a quality player and I understand him very well,” said Buksa. “I can expect from him to get great balls from corners, from free kicks, and that’s what he did today. My job is to finish that off. I hope that he’ll have a lot of assists throughout the season and I’ll be the one who’ll have a lot of goals coming from his passes.”
Buksa registered seven goals in 27 appearances last season, a solid return but short of the lofty expectations he had set for himself in MLS. Now settled and with an understanding of the league and his teammates, Buksa could be on course for big things in 2021.
“I don’t like the word that I was struggling last season – I don’t agree with that,” Buksa said in response to a question about his 2020 performance. “Obviously I’m happy to have scored the goal and I think I played a good game, but it’s a natural process and I expected to start better this season, but it’s a process. It’s nothing new, and nothing unexpected.
“I think I’m in a good spot and I hope to be getting better and better every game.”