Tajon Buchanan vs. FC Krasnodar 2019 preseason
Kurtis Burke

Proving doubters wrong along the way, Buchanan took unconventional path to MLS

MARBELLA, Spain – It was not an easy journey. It certainly wasn’t a traditional path to MLS. It was, however, the perseverance of rookie Tajon Buchanan that ultimately led him to the New England Revolution.

Buchanan grew up with the masses pushing back on his high soccer ambitions, but that didn’t stop the soon-to-be-20-year-old from dreaming big. He disproved those who didn’t believe in him when he was selected as the Revs’ first SuperDraft pick of 2019 (No. 9 overall) out of Syracuse University.

“You need those messages (of doubt) to motivate you,” said Buchanan. “That was really my motivation during my high school career and during my high school time, because I just wanted to prove all those people wrong.”

Those challenges started early on in Buchanan’s soccer career.

The Toronto native first tried youth recreational soccer, but something didn’t quite feel right. He picked up basketball instead, but came back around to soccer at about 10 years old. Buchanan played the two sports simultaneously until high school, when he decided that soccer was his true passion.

It was the beginning of Buchanan’s larger journey.

During his junior year of high school, Buchanan’s club soccer coach and personal mentor, Chrys Chrysanthou, was presented with a new job in Colorado. Without reservation, Buchanan asked Chrysanthou if he could join him as an opportunity to advance both his soccer skills and education.

Chrysanthou and his son, Anthony, welcomed Buchanan with open arms, taking him in to live with them and quickly causing them to become his second family.

Buchanan aimed high immediately in Denver, and was accepted into the competitive United States Soccer Developmental Academy club Real Colorado.

But suddenly, there was an unfortunate plot twist. Since Buchanan was not living with his biological family in Denver, FIFA and U.S. Soccer declared him ineligible to play for Real Colorado after making the team.

“When they told me I wasn’t allowed to play soccer, it was very tough,” recalled Buchanan. “It was hard for me at the time, but there was a bunch of other resources around me. I played high school soccer. The level wasn’t the best, but it was to keep fit and get games in.”

Buchanan held his head high, and did not let this obstacle stop him from sprinting towards his dreams. He simply worked harder to get there.

While playing for his high school team, Buchanan was simultaneously training at a high level with Real Colorado, and was even voted 2017 Gatorade High School Player of the Year for the state.

Yet, the situation did not grant him the same opportunities and exposure that he would have seized if playing in matches with Real Colorado. The only school that extended Buchanan a college soccer scholarship was the University of Denver, which had seen him play locally.

But then, Buchanan took a chance on Syracuse University.

The eager Canadian had fallen in love with the campus when he briefly visited a few years back. He didn’t hesitate to sign up for a $250, three-day camp at Syracuse for a chance to showcase his talents to their coaching staff.

“There were people that didn’t think I was capable of playing at Syracuse, and I was told by coaches that I should probably just look at smaller schools or start smaller if I wanted to go play D1 soccer,” said Buchanan.

“Syracuse was the only school I wanted to go to and that’s why I chose to go to the Syracuse ID camp.”

Buchanan used this as fuel, and ultimately he was offered a scholarship after finishing the showcase. His dream had come true as Buchanan officially secured a uniform for his colligate career in orange and blue.

The forward accumulated a long list of accomplishments at Syracuse, including receiving Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Freshman Team honors, carrying his team as a sophomore with career highs of eight goals and four assists, and also being selected to the 2018 All-ACC first team.

But, the best was yet to come.

That next aspiration he achieved when his name echoed as the newest member of the Revolution at the 2019 SuperDraft. Now Buchanan has had a chance to get settled, and is humbly taking it all in.

“It’s a feeling that I’ve just never really experienced,” said Buchanan. “I got to the city and it just hit me. I’m moving to a new city and this is my life now. I’m excited, but it’s going to be different.”

It may have been an unconventional journey for Buchanan, but it’s clear that his diligence and dedication to the sport will continue to fuel him as he begins his professional career with New England.

“I’m just going to keep my head down, work hard, work for my teammates, work for the club, and see what happens,” said Buchanan. “I can’t really control playing time or anything like that, but I can control working hard and playing.”