TORONTO – Some moments simply unfold exactly the way you'd imagined, and that’s precisely what happened for Tajon Buchanan in the New England Revolution’s 2-1 win at Toronto FC on Saturday night.
While there were plenty of impressive team storylines as the Revs extended their season-best unbeaten run to seven games (6-0-1), secured a 12-point lead in the East and a six-point gap in the Supporters' Shield race, and earned their fourth straight road win, what left perhaps the biggest impression was the storybook performance by Buchanan.
The native of Brampton, Ontario - just 30 minutes outside Toronto - scored the opening goal in his first-ever MLS match in front of his hometown crowd at BMO Field, and he did so in style with a perfectly-placed header to the top corner.
“His goal tonight was a terrific goal, he was dangerous on a bunch of counters, and he has a huge upside ahead of him,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We think he has great potential as a player.
“He's grown tactically. Obviously playing more, he has a better feel for the game. Technically, he's a good player. Physically, he's grown into a real man and his physical qualities are enormous, as well. But I think the experience combined with his technical ability and his physical attributes have made him a very good player.”
Buchanan’s goal was his fourth of the season, and his second straight scored with his head. Even Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio admitted that Buchanan is an undeniable talent.
“It was a good goal, great finish,” said Osorio, Buchanan's teammate on the Canadian National Team. “Tajon is an amazing talent. I think we started to really recognize that, I don't know if it was last year -- either last year or two years ago in the playoffs when he had a great run and he just keeps getting better.
“To be honest, I really, really saw his potential in the [Canadian Men’s National Team] June camp that we had, just the way he was training, the way he comes into games. He didn't play a lot but when he came in, I saw -- me personally, I saw a huge talent, and he showed that in Gold Cup and he's showing that this every game. I think his performance today, I think the goal was great for their team, but he has a lot more to him."
Buchanan’s Revolution teammates echoed similar sentiments.
“I was really happy for him,” said Henry Kessler. “Obviously, happy for the team as well. It was a big goal, going up 1-0 and getting into halftime with a lead. You know, for him, being from Brampton, not far away, it must have been a big moment.”
Buchanan commemorated this massive moment with a special backflip celebration that he’s only used for career milestones, including his first MLS playoff goal and first international goal. He showed that playing in front of his family and his hometown crowd for the first time was right up there with those memorable milestones.
“It just comes to my head I guess in just a big moment I just throw [the backflip] in,” said Buchanan. “So that came to my head and I just went to do it.”
What made the 22-year-old’s night even more special was having his own fan club with approximately 90 family members and friends in the stands cheering him on.
“My whole family was there,” Buchanan said with a smile. “My brothers, sisters, my mom, uncles, cousins, former coaches, and teammates. I gave out about 50 tickets and I was told another 30 to 40 were bought.
“I haven't played in front of my family in, I can't even remember. It's been years since the last time I played in front of them. Going back to my college days [at Syracuse], they only came up a few times and then going over to New England and COVID and everything last year, I wasn't able to play in front of them. They weren't able to come to the States because of border restrictions. So yeah, this was special. I wanted to play for them and try to get three points and we did that. And to get a goal was huge.”
Buchanan also shared a special moment with them postgame, when he went into the stands and gave his jersey to his family.
Buchanan and the Revs will return home on Wednesday night to host D.C. United at 7 p.m., as they look to extend the team’s unbeaten run to eight games.