New England Revolution

3 takeaways from the Revolution’s comeback win against D.C. United

Noel Buck, New England's 17-year-old midfielder, scored the game-winner.

Noel Buck Revolution goal vs DC United
Noel Buck during the Revolution's 2-1 win over D.C. United on March 25. David Silverman/New England Revolution

The Revolution overcame a halftime deficit to beat D.C. United 2-1 on Saturday. New England (4-0-1) now sits atop the Eastern Conference by a point.

The difference was provided by 17-year-old midfielder Noel Buck, who scored his first MLS goal in dramatic fashion. The Arlington native fired in a shot from the top of the box in the 88th minute that deflected into the corner of the net.

Here are a few takeaways:

Noel Buck is the real deal.

Beyond the goal, which deservedly draws attention given its importance in New England walking away with three points, Buck’s movement, passing, and defensive intensity placed him consistently among the Revolution’s most effective players from start to finish on Saturday.


He’s now started all five games to open the season, testament to the confidence that head coach Bruce Arena has in him.

“Noel, I thought, played a complete game and I think for our first 60 minutes, he was probably our best player,” said Arena.

Youth got its chance.

Earlier in March, Bruce Arena alluded to the Revolution’s up-and-coming group of young players during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand.”

“We’re usually an old team and I’m always criticized about playing older teams, but these young players are good and we’re going have to find a way to get them on the field,” he said.

While Buck has received starting opportunities early and often for New England, fellow Homegrown Players Esmir Bajraktarevic and Jack Panayotou saw their season debuts deferred.

On Saturday, the trio all got to start together. Buck (17), Bajraktarevic (18), and Panayotou (19) represented three quarters of the team’s four-person midfield, with Matt Polster anchoring the final spot.

Buck obviously grabbed headlines, but Bajraktarevic and Panayotou displayed technical quality on the ball as well as positional intelligence. Each player still has some room to grow (especially on the defensive side), but Arena was happy with their performances.


“We’ve seen these guys all year and they’ve been good,” Arena said. “We knew we were going to give them an opportunity.”

Carles Gil’s cameo jump-started the comeback.

Carles Gil, the Revolution’s captain and attacking catalyst, started the evening on the bench given a recent injury (which caused him to miss all of last week’s win over Nashville).

Down 1-0 in the second half, Arena turned to Gil and forward Jozy Altidore as subs in 62nd minute. A minute later — and with just his second touch of the game — Gil fired a perfectly placed cross-field pass to forward Gustavo Bou.

Bou calmly chested the ball back inside, around the United defender, and fired his shot into the far post corner to tie the game.


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