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"Milwaukee Messi" Scores His First Goal For The New England Revolution
Buck: “I’m sure a lot of people won’t even know how ridiculous that is. Like, to take it on the turn and volley it when we need a goal? That’s just incredible.”
While getting knocked out of the Leagues Cup in the Round of 16 was a somber occasion for the New England Revolution, Esmir Bajraktarevic did provide a moment of joy when he scored his first goal with the first team.
The Revs were down 1-0 to Querétaro when assistant coach Richie Williams subbed on Nacho Gil, Damian Rivera, and Bajraktarevic in the 57th minute.
The players helped change the flow of the game, with Bajraktarevic having a particularly solid night. The 18-year-old had two successful dribbles, created two chances, and was 15/15 on accurate passes.
Oh, and he scored the goal that brought the game to level terms.
“He’s confident in himself,” Matt Polster said of Bajraktarevic. “He’ll take players on in moments—maybe too often at times—but it’s something that he really likes to do and he’s good at.
“He takes a really good first touch and he has a good strike, so I’m just happy he was able to bring us back into the game.”
The goal itself was a thing of beauty as Bajraktarevic accepts a feed from Polster before hitting a left-footed volley past the goalkeeper.
Noel Buck offered plenty of praise for the strike after the game.
“It was an amazing goal,” Buck said. “I’m sure a lot of people won’t even know how ridiculous that is. Like, to take it on the turn and volley it when we need a goal? That’s just incredible.”
Bajraktarevic has had chances in the past—including hitting the woodwork—but had yet to score for the first team. Coaches assured him, “It’ll come in time.”
He continued to put in the work, fluctuating between the Revs and Revs II. Monday’s goal was a reward for staying positive.
“There have been some frustrating moments,” Bajraktarevic said. “Also, playing with the second team, it’s good to get confidence with them and get minutes with them and experience because it’s still a professional level. That’s been really good for my development.
“The first goal, it’s a great feeling. Definitely feels like the work has paid off.”
Revolution players get to see the Wisconsin native’s skill up close every day. In fact, Henry Kessler labeled him the “Milwaukee Messi.”
Bajraktarevic smiled when asked about the origins of the nickname before saying, “Kessler gave me that name. He’s creative with words, so I’m really happy to be named after Messi, I guess.”
Bajraktarevic walked out of Gillette Stadium with a game ball signed by his teammates as well as the jersey he wore.
He plans to proudly display those items, noting that he gave his mother the jersey he donned when he made his Revs debut.
Buck joked that Bajraktarevic isn’t going to get any special treatment from him, saying that he’s going to kick the fellow Homegrown at the next training session and remind him that he has more goals.
Bajraktarevic laughed, saying, “He’s a funny guy. He can say what he wants, but it is what it is. He was the first one to congratulate me, so it’s all jokes at the end of the day.”
The Revs will now return their focus to MLS league play with their next game scheduled for Aug. 20.
We don’t know what type of contributions Bajraktarevic will make during the final stretch, though Buck believes that he will get opportunities.
When Bajraktarevic does see the field, the hope is that he offers the same contributions he did on Monday night.
“[He’s a] young player, still coming along, and he came in and he was competitive,” Williams said. “He was good with the ball. And obviously it was a really good goal.”