A trio of New England Revolution Academy products are getting recognized for their positive play.
Esmir Bajraktarević, Noel Buck, and Jack Panayotou were recently called into a U.S. Under-19 Men’s Youth National Team camp. The first two have signed first-team contracts while the third is committed to playing collegiate soccer at Georgetown University. All three are earning minutes with Revolution II.
Second team coach Clint Peay believes that the international experience will help the three youngsters as they continue their journeys in the soccer world.
“It’s a good opportunity for the guys,” Peay explained. “I know it’s always exciting for young guys to be involved with our U.S. National Teams and have that international experience as they have goals and aspirations of being with the senior team someday and playing in World Cups, so we certainly wish them well and want to encourage them to be involved with that.
Bajraktarević, 17, is in his sophomore season with Revs II. He signed a Homegrown contract on May 23, 2022, and played 67 minutes for the first team two days later in a U.S. Open Cup game against New York City FC. Bajraktarević hasn’t made an MLS league appearance yet but certainly has the potential to do so one day.
“His ceiling is up to him,” Peay said. “He is very talented, but he is a young player, and he certainly has things that he can improve upon to be a more productive player and a more dangerous player, but everyone can see the talent, and everyone can see kind of, as you speak with him and you get to know him, he wants it, so he’s got the right mindset, and I think now it’s just a matter of coming every day, training, working on the areas of the game that he needs to improve upon, and trusting the process.”
Buck has similarities to Bajraktarević as he’s also a 17-year-old who is in his second year with Revs II. Buck, who signed a Homegrown contract on January 18, 2022, has yet to make his first team debut but has racked up 42 appearances with the second team.
“Noel’s a special player,” teammate Trevor Zwetsloot remarked. “He’s very athletic. He can run for days, but he’s also quite overdeveloped with his technique for his age.”
Panayotou recently won the Golden Boot award at the U-19 MLS NEXT Cup tournament. The 18-year-old is in his first year with the second team and hasn’t signed a Homegrown contract.
Panayotou has garnered a lot of attention in recent months. Peay noted that he is “very mobile and changes directions well with the ball.” The coach is also impressed with his “ability to play the final ball” and believes that “he’ll be a very good player to keep moving forward with” if Panayotou chooses to become a full-fledged professional.
Zwetsloot is also impressed by Panayotou, recognizing that the midfielder is an asset both on and off the field.
“Well Jack is someone that stood out to me from the moment I met him,” Zwetsloot said. “First of all, as a person, I think he’s a really good guy for the locker room. On the ball, obviously he’s got a lot of ability and I think that if he continues to progress, he’ll be a really special player, so yeah really happy with Jack and I love playing with him.”