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Noel Buck Not Fazed by U-20 World Cup Roster Exclusion
"If I was going to go and not play, then what was the point really?"
When the U.S. roster for the U-20 World Cup came out, New England Revolution fans were stunned to see that Noel Buck didn’t make the roster.
The 18-year-old has been a fixture in New England’s midfield with 12 appearances so far in 2023. Along with his impressive ability on the ball, Buck has shown some quality defensive ability and is physically stronger compared to this time last year.
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Buck has won 20 of his 27 tackles and also has 10 clearances and 11 interceptions. He also already scored a goal this season and nearly had his second on a beautiful display of skill against Inter Miami.
“He's done very well. I think he’s started 11 of those games,” head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena said. “He scored a great goal against [Inter] Miami that should have been allowed. So, I think he's done very well. Wherever we play him on the field he has responded quite well. He’s been a real pleasant surprise for us.”
At 18 years old, it is fair to say that Buck is ahead of schedule. He has developed into almost a permanent fixture in the starting XI after appearing in just seven games last season and only making three starts.
The Blazing Musket asked U.S. U-20 Head Coach Mikey Varas about the decision to leave Buck off the roster and he indicated that there were some questions about Buck’s availability.
“Yeah, so Noel was also a player that was heavily discussed, going into even the final roster,” Varas said. “At the end of the day, without getting into details, whether he was going to be available or not was also somewhat of a question mark and we went with the players that were 100% available, and we're super confident in the group that we have. That being said, Noel, is a great player. We really love what he's doing in New England. We think they're doing a great job with him and he'll be very important in our next cycle.”
Fans might have expected Buck to be disappointed or upset about not making the roster with how well he has performed but the midfielder seems content with the decision.
“The [United States Men’s] National Team, especially the youth national teams, they’re very selective,” Buck said. “And especially on the U-20 team, there’s a lot of good players who have been playing there for a while. It would have been really cool, but I’m happy where I am. If I was going to go and not play, then what was the point really? I’m playing now, obviously I think I’m getting better and getting a lot of experience here, and I’m on a roll so why would I want to stop playing.”
Buck does possess a UK passport which allows him some flexibility in terms of his international future. If his future involvement in the United States system is in question, he could decide to play for Wales or England according to Tom Bogert.
While the midfielder admitted that it is hard to project, he did say he is open to all opportunities to play on the international level.
“I’m open to anything. It’s hard to say now because I don’t think I’m really that close to the [United States Men’s] National Team, so it’s hard to say,” Buck stated.
A lot still remains unknown about Buck’s exclusion. Was he simply not selected? Was his call-up rejected by New England as Varas referred to his playing time being a question mark? Were there concerns about Buck’s playing time? It seems like Revs fans might never know.
The Blazing Musket reached out to the New England Revolution for comment and have yet to receive one from the club. This story will be updated if a comment is received.