Preseason Notebook | Lletget debuts, 16-year-old Buck starts as Revs keep progressing

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LOS ANGELES – Preseason matches are largely meant to be learning opportunities, and Saturday night’s 4-0 loss to the LA Galaxy fell firmly into that category for the New England Revolution. It’s a scoreline that no doubt left the Revs disappointed, but their focus after the final whistle was on lessons learned and mistakes to be corrected ahead of their first competitive matches later this month.

“The result today is obviously disappointing, but I think there’s a lot to learn from it,” said 16-year-old Homegrown midfielder Noel Buck, who started and played 45 minutes. “It’s a preseason game, so we can obviously learn from this, and it’s great that it’s happened now and not during the beginning of the season, because we can learn from this.”

New England conceded once in the first half and three times after the break, and saw their best chance at a consolation goal thwarted in the 89th minute when Justin Rennicks had a quality chance kicked away by the Galaxy goalkeeper.

“I think the most important thing is that we can’t give up, even when we’re down,” said center back Jon Bell. “Obviously it’s a preseason game, and we go into each game like it’s an actual game and we’ve got to be prepared. We want to get the best result, but all you can do from these types of games is learn from it, fix those mistakes, and the next time we come out, we don’t make it happen again.”

Lletget debuts with 67-minute showing just two days after joining squad

It’s been a whirlwind few days for Sebastian Lletget, who was on the bench for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 3-0 win over Honduras on Wednesday night in Saint Paul, Minnesota, traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday to join Revs preseason camp, trained with his new teammates for the first time on Friday, and went straight into the starting XI for Saturday’s preseason friendly against his former team the Galaxy.

Lletget started on the left side of midfield and showed glimpses of why the Revolution jumped to acquire him back in mid-December, going 67 minutes before being replaced by his former Galaxy teammate Emmanuel Boateng.

“We already got to see what he’s capable of,” Bell said of Lletget. “Obviously it’s not easy for him because he just came in like three days ago and he got thrown into the starting lineup right away, so it’s no big deal. We’re just going to get better from there.”

“I think he’s settled in very well,” added Buck. “He’s a great guy, he’s a good player. Obviously he’s got a high reputation. I think he’ll settle in great. It’s only been a couple days, but he’s got the personality and he’s got the soccer to come with it.”

After debuting last weekend, Buck earns first start in Revolution midfield

Every day is a learning experience for Noel Buck, who at just 16 years old has quickly risen from Revolution Academy, to Revolution II, to Revolution first team. Saturday night was another valuable opportunity for Buck, who started alongside much of the Revolution’s established first-choice group, including the DP trio of Carles Gil, Adam Buksa, and Gustavo Bou.

“I think it’s greatly beneficial for me,” Buck said of the experience. “Getting those first minutes in is always the hardest, it’s always the most difficult, and getting these, I can get more comfortable every day.”

Buck went 45 minutes before being replaced by Arnór Traustason at halftime, and while the Revs struggled to gain a foothold in Saturday’s match, the teenager said he has still taken valuable lessons from his first two preseason appearances against LAFC and the Galaxy.

“A lot of it is fitness, but I think for me, especially, is being relaxed,” said Buck. “It’s obviously difficult, it’s a lot of pressure playing in these circumstances, and that will come with time and experience. I’ll be looking to build on this every week.”

Revs begin to wrap up LA trip as attention turns to Champions League

The Revs will train for three more days on the west coast before returning to New England on Wednesday to make final preparations for their first competitive match of 2022, their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League opener against Cavaly AS on February 15 at Gillette Stadium.

That match is now a little more than one week away, and players know their mindset needs to shift as competitive competition is on the horizon.

“We’ve got to be ready, mentally strong, we’ve got to be mentally prepared,” said Bell. “We’ve got to have that confidence, that grit. Just go in there and be aggressive, because the games are going to come quick and it’s not going to be easy.”