FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In a very frustrating home opener at Gillette Stadium, it was a tough loss for the New England Revolution as they fell to Columbus Crew SC, 2-0. While the Revs were without question disappointed with the result, there was a pair of bright spots for New England, as rookies Justin Rennicks and Tajon Buchanan made their professional MLS debuts.
Rennicks came on at the half and Buchanan stepped onto the pitch in the 81st minute, and while the team didn’t get the result that they were hoping for, these two both reached a profound milestone in their careers.
“Right before I came in, I prayed,” said the Revs' top SuperDraft pick (No. 9 overall) Buchanan. “I just reflected on my past. I’ve been working so hard to get this opportunity. I’m grateful and I’m happy that I was able to make my debut.”
The same gratitude held true for Rennicks, who signed as the Revs’ sixth Homegrown player after spending more than four years developing in the Revolution Academy. With the 19-year-old debuting for his hometown team, it made this moment even more special.
“[It was] good to hear the crowd cheering, the fans. It was amazing,” said Rennicks as he reflected on the moment when he heard his number called. “I don’t even have words for it. It’s crazy.
“It was my debut and I’ve been waiting to get these minutes, so just couldn’t be happier.”
Head coach Brad Friedel was also pleased by the duo stepping up in the second half after seeing them both work extremely hard throughout preseason.
“Justin and Tajon are both very good players [and] both very athletic,” said Friedel. “I thought Justin coming on at halftime, probably when he didn’t expect to – a lot of players don’t expect to come on at the half – but I thought he provided the necessary spark that we needed, and he actually made [Crew SC left back Waylon] Francis defend a lot, made Artur shift over and defend a lot. He started moving them around a little bit more.
“I feel if we started the game in that manner that by the time the second half came, we would have created more.”
Rennicks' and Buchanan’s teammates are hopeful that based on their debut performances, constant diligence in training and hunger to continue to learn, that there are great things to come in their futures.
“It’s always great to get their first minutes and I think they both did a good job,” said veteran and Homegrown player Scott Caldwell. “They had confidence going at guys 1-v-1. Justin made a key play tracking back defensively on one play and like I said, they both showed confidence going forward, and it will only get better from here.”