“He’s got that in him” | Young Buck opens scoring as Revs make it three straight wins

6_15_24 Noel Buck goal celebration group

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A late addition to the starting lineup, young midfielder Noel Buck stepped up to the occasion and buried his first goal of the campaign on Saturday night, opening what would be one of the Revs’ strongest performances of the season and helping to secure the team’s first official winning streak of the year with a 3-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Deputizing for Mark-Anthony Kaye, a last-minute injury scratch from the lineup, Buck marked his return from England Men’s Elite Squad duty with a strong performance on both sides of the ball, particularly in partnership with fellow midfielder Ian Harkes, who himself was filling in for the suspended Matt Polster. Strikes from forward Giacomo Vrioni and winger Esmir Barjaktarević rounded out New England’s tally and made sure the Revs could withstand special goals from talented Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld, bringing the team’s tally to 16 pts. (5-10-1) on the year.

“That’s an unbelievable shot,” head coach Caleb Porter said of Buck’s goal, a rocket into the top corner from just beyond the “D” seven minutes into the match. “Unbelievable. He’s got that in him. I saw it last year when I was watching film on him. For whatever reason, early in the year we weren’t seeing that. I think it’s just taken time for him, like everybody, to find that balance of, ‘Here’s our tactics,’ but also, ‘Go and play, man. Don’t be a robot; let your instincts take over.’ That was him stepping forward and having a go. He does have that in him, and I’d like to see it more.”

Bajraktarević was similarly excited to see his teammate and close friend score such a spectacular goal.

“I’m so happy for him,” he said with a smile. “He was coming back from an injury, and then in and out of the lineup, so I was very happy to see him score. He’s a very close friend of mine, so, yeah, I was very happy to see that.”

Defender DeJuan Jones also had praise for Buck, as well as his midfield partners Harkes and captain Carles Gil, who notched his fourth assist in MLS this year, and later Andrew Farrell from off the bench.

“Carles is always going to do his thing,” Jones said. “Noel, stepping in, been out of the lineup but to score that banger after coming back from international duty was really big-time; he gave a great shift tonight. And Ian was very good tonight, keeping the ball for us, swinging the ball, really giving us a good rhythm in the game. So, really good performance from all the midfielders today. Also, Farrell stepped in and did a really good job zipping balls, really helping us close out that game.”

On top of that, Jones liked the whole team’s mentality in responding to Gauld’s equalizer, which pegged the Revs back a mere six minutes after they had gone in front.

“It was a great response,” he said. “Obviously, always good to score that early goal, but then they responded with a goal, so our response to stay on the front foot, to not go in a shell, was important. Ultimately, to get that two-goal advantage going into halftime, that was big-time for us.”

Aside from his goal, Buck put in a solid shift before being taken off in the 71st minute as an injury precaution, which Porter said after the game was not anything more than cramp. Porter also said that the chemistry in midfield between the deputizing Buck and Harkes came down to the consistent work the two had been putting in together on the training ground.

“The good thing is, those two guys have played together in training every single day,” he said. “We do a lot of tactical work, almost every day. We work in our shape, and we work both [starting and depth] groups in their shape, so that everybody’s ready for exactly this. So, we’re not just preparing our group that’s going to start; we’re preparing both groups to play, and we’re developing every guy in our game model every single day. So those two guys have played together every single day, and I think you saw, there was a really good chemistry there. And because they’ve been prepared, it was seamless for them to step in.”

Up next, New England’s three-game winning streak will be put to the test on the road against defending Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati. As the second half of the season approaches and the Revolution’s focus pivots to this third quarter, the team and the fans alike will be hoping that this hot run of form keeps up.