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MLS Spotlight: Noel Buck shining in strong start for Revs


The New England Revolution have started off strong through the opening two months of the 2023 MLS season and while many veteran players have contributed to the team’s early success, 18-year-old Noel Buck might be one of the biggest surprises within the squad.

Buck has enjoyed a positive start himself in Bruce Arena’s squad, helping the Revs to a current first place spot in the Eastern Conference through 10 matches. A former Revs academy standout, Buck signed a homegrown contract in 2022 and since has earned a starting job for the East leaders this season.

With 10 appearances (eight starts) under his belt already in 2023, Buck is striving to improve his game with plenty of opportunities to come later this summer and fall.

“I feel good, we’ve done really well, and I think we have grown a lot,” Buck told SBI. “We still have a lot to grow from and there’s a lot of time left in the season. It’s a grind, we have got to keep getting results and continue improving.

“I’d love to win the Supporters’ Shield this season,” Buck added. “We’ve had a good start and we can still work harder to get to where we want to be. MLS Cup is another great goal, but I think we still have work to do to become a good tournament team.”

Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos

Buck is one of three Revs players under the age of 20 to earn minutes this season, continuing a strong pipeline of young talent within the franchise. Esmir Bajraktarevic and Jack Panayotou have also appeared alongside next to Buck at times, while also using past experiences with Revs II in MLS NEXT Pro or the USL to continue their respective developments.

Buck has shined brightest though, featuring in every league match for the Revs and fighting off several veterans for a starting job. Although plenty of things can change, Buck credits Arena’s early trust in him and the leadership from his teammates to help him get to where he is currently.

“He’s [Arena] done a very good job in giving me confidence,” Buck said of the former USMNT head coach. He’s the type of guy who enjoys having older players so if you’re a young player trying to play, you have to be good. His expectations of us have helped push us to the next level and he’s an experienced coach so he knows what he is doing.

“Bruce creates a great locker room so almost everyone in the squad has been a leader,” Buck added. “Matt Polster has been a great leader to me and on the field I try and watch what he does because I really like the way he plays.”

Buck has mainly featured alongside Polster in the No. 8 role this season, providing coverage in front of the Revs backline and covering plenty of ground both in attack and defense. His lone goal for the club this season proved to be the winner against DC United in a 2-1 road victory at Audi Field.

After Gustavo Bou equalized for the Revs in the second half, Buck’s long-range shot deflected past Tyler Miller in the 88th minute, making him the hero of the night. Buck is still searching for his second goal of the season, but fondly remembers his game-winner like it was yesterday.

“It was really funny because I think we just made a sub and there was supposed to be two people at the top of their [DC] box,” Buck said about his goal. “I yelled for someone to join me but nobody did, so the clearance that I thought would’ve went to someone else came to me. I just wanted to hit it as hard as I could and what a coincidence it deflected in. It was a good moment.”

Buck’s growing role with the Revs has continued to stir interest about his potential international future, especially with him eligible for the U.S. under-20 and under-23 men’s national teams. The versatile midfielder has yet to represent the U.S. at any level, but could be part of the next wave of young talents to force themselves into the player pool.

His status for the FIFA U-20 World Cup looks doubtful, especially with the tournament starting in 16 days, but Buck remains confident of what’s to come later this year.

“It would be really hard to break in to the squad right now, especially with a lot of familiar guys still eligible, but I am hoping to get a chance in the next group of players,” Buck said. My goal is to get in there after the World Cup and I think with the upcoming domestic competitions coming up, it’s a good chance to prove myself for when that time comes.”

Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos

With the growing number of American MLS players making their way overseas, Buck could also be part of the next group to take their talents abroad. Gabriel Slonina, Paxten Aaronson, Caden Clark, and Kevin Paredes are just a handful of former MLS homegrowns to earn European moves within the past year and Buck’s positive impressions might be what gets him scouted for a move of his own.

Although the bright lights of Europe can be appealing to young players, Buck and his teammates know his league development will be what helps him reach the next level of his career.

“It’s great to see a lot of young guys making their way overseas, but for me it’s all about focusing on what I can control right now,” Buck said. “Whether I go to Europe or not, it all depends on me and what I put into my work. I really got to show that I can bring it and if I do then hopefully I can test myself over there someday.”

“He’s a player that is going to continue to impress people,” Revs fullback DeJuan Jones told media earlier this season about Buck. “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.”


  1. Too bad he won’t be released for the u20 WC. Double edge sword now. We want the kids to get playing time for their MLS teams, but now these kids are important to their teams. I see it as a sign of continued progress. Some people don’t. I take a more meh approach when it comes to the youth teams. Very rare do you have more than 4 players actually look like real potential USMNT quality players from the u20 teams. It’s a very good sign that these guys at 17- 20 years old are now important players for their club teams here in MLS and abroad.
    Scouts are everywhere now. WC/ youth WC’s aren’t as heavily weighted in the scouting reports these days compared to 20 to 30 years ago. Of course I want our youth to do well at these WC’s, but I think a greater sign of progress for our young players and our program is how important/ vital they are becoming to their respective clubs in MLS and abroad.


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