The New England Revolution's Tajon Buchanan confirmed his reputation as a star in the making with two superb goals that helped Canada's Under-23s secure a 2-0 victory over El Salvador in Guadalajara on Friday to begin their Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying bid.
Buchanan struck twice in the opening 21 minutes, one with his left foot and the other with his right, to give Canada a dream start in their efforts to qualify their U-23 team for the Olympics for the first time.
Buchanan had finished 2020 in hugely impressive fashion at right-back as the Revs reached the Eastern Conference Final in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. But he was back in his more familiar role on the right wing as Canada began their Group B campaign. He found himself on the left wing, though, with 17 minutes on the clock to put Canada in front. The 22-year-old, selected No. 9 by New England in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, skillfully and effortlessly beat his defender on the outside before finishing through the goalkeeper with his left foot.
Just four minutes later, Buchanan made it 2-0. This time the ball rolled to him in a central position just outside the box and Buchanan, with his right foot, delivered an unstoppable first-time shot into the net.
That 2-0 lead came under pressure from El Salvador before the half was out, but Canada also came close to further extending their lead when Aidan Daniels curled a shot off the post.
As was to be expected for a team featuring a number of players who hadn't played a competitive game in several months, Canada faded somewhat in the second half. But the team guided by former CF Montréal head coach Mauro Biello avoided too many nervy moments as El Salvador looked to force their way into the contest early in the second half, allowing Canada to eventually see out the win in relative comfort.
Canada will next face a Haiti side that opened their tournament with a 3-0 defeat to Honduras earlier on Friday. The top two teams from the four-team group will qualify for the semifinals, with the two finalists qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.