Noel Buck, he's only 17! Revs homegrown hero caps "complete game"


There’s a youthful Revolution in New England, as three homegrown teenagers were in Bruce Arena’s starting XI for the club’s Matchday 5 trip to D.C. United.

And at the heart of it all Saturday night was Noel Buck, the youngest and most promising of the teenage trio. The 17-year-old scored an 88th-minute winner for the Revs, his first goal of his sophomore campaign capping yet another quality performance in a 2-1 road victory.

“Noel, I thought played a complete game,” Arena, New England's head coach and sporting director, said in his post-match press conference. "And I think for the first 60 minutes he was probably our best player.”

Joining Buck in the Revs midfield at Audi Field were 18-year-olds Jack Panayotou and Esmir Bajraktarevic, who both earned their first starts of 2023.

“They all had a good preseason,” Arena said. “Jack played at Georgetown last year for a semester and he had a really good preseason, but then he got the mononucleosis that set him back a little bit, but a really good performance today."

A year removed from three starts in seven appearances, and his first MLS goal a winner against NYCFC, Buck has been an integral part of the Revs midfield this season, starting all five matches, helping New England race out to four wins from the opening five matches of the season to sit atop the Eastern Conference table (12 points, 4W-1L-0D record).

“He continues to grow physically, which is impressive, his tactical understanding, his first touch is very good,” Arena said. “He’s got an excellent work rate. He's become a real good player.”

New England fell behind just before the halftime break on a Christian Benteke goal, but Gustavo Bou leveled in the 63rd minute and also helped set the stage for Buck's late-game heroics.

An attempted headed clearance of Bou’s corner fell to Buck, who struck a low, first-time effort that deflected in past D.C. United goalkeeper Tyler Miller. It’s the latest moment in Buck’s meteoric rise.

“From last year, I think he's maybe gotten taller, he's gotten stronger and he knows the game better as well. Honestly, as soon as I saw him shoot it, I thought it was going in and it went in,” Revs fullback DeJuan Jones said.

“He’s a player that is going to continue to impress people. I think he's even got more in the tank that he hasn't shown. He's gonna keep scoring goals for us and keep being a strong player in the midfield for us.”