In the 33rd minute of Sunday's home match against New York City FC, with his New England Revolution side leading by a single goal, 17-year-old midfielder Noel Buck turned at the top of the box before unleashing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
The academy product, just five games into his MLS career, hardly realized what had just happened.
"Not really," Buck said postgame when asked if he remembers much of the moment. "The one part I do remember is that I didn't go celebrate right away. I was just like, 'Whew'!"
"Probably a bit of a relief that one of my chances finally went in," he added. "And hopefully it makes a good picture of me flexing."
While it may have felt like a long time coming, Buck's first MLS goal, which came in a critical 3-0 home win, was the latest marker in his rapid rise, going from the Revolution academy to playing meaningful minutes with a first team that head coach Bruce Arena says has been "decimated with injuries.”
Buck made his MLS debut on Aug. 13, less than a month ago against D.C. United. It took him just 221 minutes and six shots to get off the mark, wheeling away to the sound of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off".
Perhaps it makes sense Buck's first MLS goal came in a match where things finally went New England's way. Winless in their last four, the Revs took home three points, despite Arena being less than impressed with their play on the field.
"We probably played better in the last two games, and should have had more than one point in those two games," he remarked in typically nonchalant fashion. "We’ve played better in 10 games this year than this one, but we got the three points."
It's been a difficult season for the Revs on the injury front. Gustavo Bou has played just 14 matches. Giacomo Vrioni, brought in to replace DP striker Adam Buksa in the summer window, hasn't played since July 30. New England have relied heavily on 2021 Landon Donovan MLS MVP winner Carles Gil to stay alive in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs race.
"Without Carles Gil, we wouldn't be where we are today," said Arena.
With their win over NYCFC in the books, the Revs are above the East's playoff line (seventh place), at least for now. They're tied with FC Cincinnati on 38 points and just one ahead of Inter Miami CF. Both have a game in hand on the Revs.
"We know it’s gonna come right down to the wire," Arena said of the team's playoff ambitions. "But that’s certainly what our goal is. If we get our team healthy, in October we’ll be pretty good."
"This is big," the manager added. "It’s nice to get a break once in a while."