Tajon Buchanan was an exceptional bright spot in the New England Revolution’s otherwise disappointing 3-1 preseason loss to Louisville City on Thursday.
The rookie midfielder created the Revs’ only moment of celebration in the 68th minute of his first 90-minute performance as a pro. With the Revolution down 3-0, Buchanan raced to the end line, cut to his left foot to buy some time from Louisville defender Oscar Jimenez and served a ball to the post for a wide-open Justin Rennicks, who nodded the cross into the back of the net with a diving header.
It was Rennicks’ first goal as a member of the Revolution since signing as a homegrown player, and Buchanan’s first assist.
The play was also the best example of Buchanan coming into his own this preseason. The 2019 Superdraft’s ninth overall pick came to the Revs with a well-known set of skills: He’s an athletic and quick ball-winner and strong in one-on-one situations.
On Thursday, Buchanan added to his pedigree by demonstrating he’s comfortable playing on the right wing, which has been an area of weakness for New England in recent years, and combining well with his new teammates.
“Even now, in preseason, I think we have a lot of chemistry,” Rennicks said of his partnership on the field with Buchanan. “So in future games, in the actual season or even the rest of preseason, we’re just going to keep connecting and keep making goals.”
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) February 14, 2019
While scoring goals shouldn’t be a huge problem this year thanks to New England’s plurality of attacking threats, conceding them is another story.
Thursday’s loss called back memories from last season, when Louisville City stunned the Revolution 3-2 in the U.S. Open Cup.
Revolution coach Brad Friedel described the starters he used Thursday as “young” in postgame remarks, but there were plenty of veteran players on the field when Louisville scored all three of its goals, including Michael Mancienne, the highest-paid defender in the league.
Expectations and reactions should be tempered when it comes to preseason results, but even Friedel admitted his side needed to be better.
The Revs will get another chance Saturday when they play Minnesota United FC in the inaugural Orlando City Invitational.