Like any profession, time means experience.
Want to be a broadcaster? Record yourself on your phone and post it online.
How about a surgeon? Perform simulated surgeries.
No one can walk into a job and immediately become an expert. This is especially true for athletes.
With star players Gustavo Bou and Dylan Borrero still missing in the New England Revolution’s 1-0 win against DC United on Saturday, Revs head coach Bruce Arena had to rely on Homegrown Players Damian Rivera and Justin Rennicks to fill in the holes in the starting lineup.
Entering Saturday, the New England natives had made just 20 MLS appearances. While both have been around the Revolution for what seems like years, they are still lacking a robust amount of vital game minutes.
Rivera looked lively on the right wing. He routinely beat his man and delivered balls into the box. Though Rennicks play was a notch better. He had one of his best games in a Revs jersey without finding the back of the net.
“He hasn’t gotten the goals [this season] like he’s wanted but he’s making those runs into the box opening up space,” center back Andrew Farrell said.
“If you watch the Carles goal, Rennicks is running around opening up space for him [Carles Gil] to get in there.”
With the game in the second half still in favor of the Revs, it was time for Arena to dig into his bench and make some tactical substitutions.
Off came Damian “Tico” Rivera, and on for his MLS debut was Arlington, Mass. native Noel Buck.
Buck is only 17 years old but has already gained many professional minutes for the Revolution II.
Competing in 15 games and logging over 1,000 minutes, Buck is already making a name for himself in the MLS Next Pro League, and it’s only a matter of time before he takes the MLS by storm.
“Noel Buck is very good,” Arena said. “Very competitive kid for 17 years old. That is an excellent first performance.”
Although Buck was sent on as fresh legs and to see the game out, he found himself on the ball more often than not in the attacking third.
With arguably some of the greatest first few MLS touches, Buck received the ball and with the outside of his foot sent through Gil one on one with the D.C. United keeper, but ultimately the chance led to nothing.
“Obviously it was kind of a bag of nerves,” Buck said. “I took about 15 tiny touches and just got out and then saw him and knew he was there from before. On every single other day he’ll score that, but it happens to the best players.”
Buck’s confidence after this play grew more and more. With the Revolution having a jam packed schedule for the rest of the season, and still looking to make the playoffs, players like Buck may see extended minutes in the coming weeks.
“We have two games coming up in the next five or six days,” Farrell said. “So we’re going to need everybody. The academy has done a great job producing these guys, and it’s just good to see them finally be able to get on the field.”
Now that players like Buck have an MLS game under their belt, they can not be satisfied. They have to focus on continuing to make an impact in the minutes they are given.
“I can enjoy that I made my debut and played well,” Buck said. “ Overall it’s on to the next and it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t keep doing it.”
The Revolution face off next against Toronto FC on Wednesday as they continue their playoff push.