Tajon Buchanan’s stock continues to soar.
In his third game back from a breakout performance with Canada at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, the New England Revolution midfielder netted the opener in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Toronto FC. While retreating away from goal, he drove home a bullet header on DeJuan Jones’ cross in the 20th minute, an effort that fellow Syracuse University product Alex Bono couldn’t keep out.
It was the 22-year-old's latest highlight-reel moment, and Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena was effusive in his praise afterward.
“Tonight, his goal tonight was a terrific goal,” Arena said. “He was dangerous on a bunch of counters, and he has a huge upside ahead of him. We think he has great potential as a player.”
Huge upside indeed.
GOAL: Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution - 20th minute
Buchanan and European transfer interest have gone hand-in-hand all season, with MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert previously reporting that a move to Belgium’s Club Brugge was progressing. Should Buchanan head overseas, the expectation is he’d be loaned back to New England for the remainder of the 2021 MLS campaign.
The winger offered a polite “no comment” when asked about any move, though perked up when asked to reflect on his goal and the emotions it created. Buchanan grew up in nearby Brampton (just outside of Toronto), making the occasion a homecoming of sorts.
“I haven't played in front of my family in – I can't even remember,” Buchanan said. “It's been years since the last time I played in front of them. Going back to my college days, they only came up a few times and then going over to New England and COVID and everything last year, I wasn't able to play in front of them.
“They weren't able to come to the States because of border restrictions. So yeah, this was special. I wanted to play for them and try to get three points and we did that. And to get a goal was huge.”
A legion of Buchanan supporters attended, too. While some TFC fans may have felt conflicted over witnessing a budding CanMNT star score at BMO Field, those in the winger’s inner circle were surely ecstatic at the finish and commensurate backflip celebration.
“I mean, my whole family was there,” Buchanan said. “My brothers, sisters, my mom, uncles, cousins, former coaches, and teammates. I gave out about 50 tickets and I was told another 30 to 40 were bought.”
Buchanan is stepping up as the Revs continue without midfielder Carles Gil (injury), this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner. He’s on four goals and three assists in 15 matches (12 starts), maintaining the trajectory that gained a national spotlight during New England’s trip to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.
Arena’s seen considerable growth in a player that originally entered MLS as the No. 9 pick in the 2019 SuperDraft presented by adidas.
“He's grown tactically. Obviously playing more, he has a better feel for the game,” Arena said. “Technically, he's a good player. Physically, he's grown into a real man and his physical qualities are enormous as well. But I think the experience combined with his technical ability and his physical attributes have made him a very good player.”
Despite transfer speculation and increased attention, Buchanan’s staying focused on New England’s collective aims. They’re firmly in the Supporters’ Shield lead with 43 points from 20 games and are seven games unbeaten (six wins, one draw).
“The boys today, we showed a lot of fight,” Buchanan said. “We stuck through it, even when they scored to tie the game up, we found that winner. So yeah, we showed a lot of about us and we're super proud of the effort tonight.”