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Noel Buck Returns to Starting XI After Missing 2 Games
"He’s gonna go far because he has a work ethic. He has the right mindset. He’s humble. There’s nothing more you could ask from the kid.”
Noel Buck has already racked up 14 starts this season, so his two-game absence was noticeable. The 18-year-old returned to the starting XI against Orlando City.
In 90 minutes played, Buck completed 87 percent of his passes while tallying 45 touches and one chance created. For his first minutes in quite some time, the midfielder looked solid even though there was some expected rust after missing out on recent games.
Head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena thought that the 18-year-old put in a solid shift against Orlando City.
“Solid job. I think early in the game he had a little bit of a tough time, but got back into it,” Arena said. “He played solid. Missed marking the 13 [Duncan McGuire] for the goal, but overall a really good performance by Noel.”
In the early minutes of the game, Buck looked like he was still trying to find his game out on the wet Gillette Stadium pitch. Whether it be racking up fouls or committing turnovers, the midfielder looked like someone who had missed some time.
But as the game progressed, Buck improved. He even nearly found the back of the net on his lone shot and assisted on Gustavo Bou’s goal for his first helper of the season.
While some might call that a good night, Buck thought he wasn’t “particularly great.”
“I thought I was fine,” he said after the match. “I don’t think I was particularly great to be honest. You know a couple of mistakes but I think that’s bound to happen.”
While just 18 years old, Buck is showing a mindset that will take his soccer career wherever he chooses. His determination to try and improve is something teammates can notice.
Veteran center back Omar Gonzalez touched upon the youngster’s work ethic after the 3-1 win.
“Oh it’s been incredible to see him progress since I got here last year,” veteran center back Gonzalez said. “At the beginning of this year I said to him, ‘You know last year it took you a while to get into a game. Let’s see if we can speed that up’ and look how he started. I mean it was just incredible. The run that were on, a big part has to do with him. He’s put in the work. He’s playing really well. He works really well with our midfield, Carles and Polster and Latif Blessing and he’s just been excellent. He’s gonna go far because he has a work ethic. He has the right mindset. He’s humble. There’s nothing more you could ask from the kid.”
So while it wasn’t a perfect night for Buck, his impressive qualities were on display. He helped the team secure three points and his teammates can tell he is putting in the work.
It can be easy to forget that Buck is still just a kid. There is still so much room for him to grow and the sky seems to be the limit for his career.