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How Tajon Buchanan became Canada’s fastest rising star

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On a warm August night at Toronto’s BMO Field, Tajon Buchanan pounced again.

Converting a wonderfully executed header, Buchanan opened the scoring for the New England Revolution against Toronto FC. The eventual Supporters’ Shield winners went on to win 2-1 in what was the Brampton native’s first appearance in his hometown, with dozens of loved ones in attendance.

Just 10 days later, Buchanan secured a club-record transfer to Club Brugge in January, capping off a memorable summer for the 22-year-old.

With just 14 caps to his name, the Canadian forward has taken 2021 by storm. All 14 of those appearances and three goals have come in 2021, including the equalizer against Mexico in the Gold Cup semifinals this past July. Buchanan’s other two strikes came at BMO Field in Concacaf World Cup qualifying, where the majority of the crowd was cheering instead of jeering.

Watch Canada’s quest for a World Cup berth on Sportsnet and SN NOW
At home in Edmonton, Canada is set to face Costa Rica in a match that could shape its World Cup fate. Live coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

Even after a strong 2020 campaign with the Revolution, few could’ve foreseen Buchanan going full supernova with the national team.

Buchanan hadn’t received an invite to a Canadian youth national team until the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers in March. Fresh off an impressive 2020 campaign with the Revolution, the ninth overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft received a call-up to the U-23 squad to help guide Canada to the Tokyo Olympics. With European scouts in attendance, it took Buchanan just 17 minutes to make an impact.

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The winger completed a four-minute brace, en route to a 2-0 victory over El Salvador. They were his only goals of the tournament, but he put on a show in every other game until Canada fell to Mexico in the semifinals – sound familiar? – thus failing to qualify for the Olympics.

Buchanan clearly left a lasting impression on the scouts, though. Several European clubs reportedly fought for his signature in the following months before he was rewarded with his first senior cap in June’s World Cup qualifier versus Aruba, racking up two assists in the process.

It was after that game when head coach John Herdman stated that Buchanan had “Phonzie (Alphonso Davies) potential.” It was pretty clear to see why. The technique, pace and fearlessness when driving at defenders were off the charts.

Then, Buchanan’s time to shine arrived at the Gold Cup this past summer. Davies and Jonathan David were injured, meaning there was room for another attacker to take the reigns.

Whether it was at left wing back or right wing, Buchanan did exactly that.

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“Tajon’s bringing that excitement for the crowd and for the fans back home,” Herdman said of Buchanan during his breakthrough at the Gold Cup. “Every team needs a player like that. Every fanbase loves that type of player, that plays carefree.”

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It probably helped that Buchanan scored a cracker of a goal against Mexico in Canada’s first Gold Cup semifinal in 14 years. He was threatening the Mexican defence, then one simple tweak unleashed the youngster onto the unsuspecting defenders.

“We had a plan to shift him into higher positions during the first half and when we did, you could see it impacted him,” Herdman recalled after the 2-1 loss. “But moving him into that higher position, shifting into a more defined 4-4-2, 4-1-3-2 defensively, it helped … and they couldn’t handle him on the flanks.”

As heartbreaking as the loss was, Buchanan could take solace in the fact that New England was on a tear in MLS when he returned. Picking up where he left off with Canada, he played a leading role for the Revolution and all but guaranteed the Supporters’ Shield in August, a full two months before the regular-season finale.

It was a foregone conclusion that Buchanan was heading for Europe long before the transfer to Club Brugge was finalized. It was just a matter of when it would be completed.

He finished the regular season with a career-high eight goals and five assists in 27 appearances (19 starts). His underlying stats highlight a complete attacker who is ready for a European challenge.

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With Cyle Larin returning to the fold and Ike Ugbo – ironically another Belgian-based player – committing to the national team this month, there is an even larger glut of forwards available to Herdman in this window. That means someone will inevitably have to start the Costa Rica and Mexico games on the bench. If that ends up being Buchanan, though, that is quite the weapon to have as an impact substitute.

It hasn’t always been easy for Buchanan. He lost his father when he was seven years old. He made the tough decision to leave home at 15 years old to join his best friend and his father and former coach, Chrys Chrysanthou, in Colorado. After playing for Real Colorado academy and at Legacy High School, Buchanan eventually went to college and was drafted into MLS.

The rest is history.

Now the next step of Buchanan’s journey awaits in Bruges. Belgium has been kind to Canadians, with Jonathan David and Tomasz Radzinski starting their professional European careers in the Jupiler League, so the Revolution man will be hoping to emulate that pair.

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Club Brugge spent a reported $7 million, a fee which is often reserved for established players with strong European pedigrees. That speaks to how much the club valued Buchanan and how competitive the bidding war was for his services.

The secret is out ahead of these November qualifiers. Buchanan is a rising star, and it may not be long before the “rising” is omitted.





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Jacobs, defence lead Raiders to first win of season over Broncos

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Just when it looked as if the Las Vegas Raiders might blow another fourth-quarter lead, they put the ball in the hands of Josh Jacobs and the running game to finish off the Denver Broncos.

The emphatic game-sealing drive gave Josh McDaniels his first win as a head coach since being fired by Denver in 2010 and backed up the message he gave his players all week.

“He said it to the offense and defense: You should want the burden to finish the game, not hoping that someone else does their thing or they they fix the problem,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Whatever the game asked for, it’s our turn to do our job.”

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The Raiders did just that. Jacobs ran for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns, Amik Robertson returned a fumble 68 yards for a score and the Raiders beat the Broncos 32-23 on Sunday.

After opening their first season under McDaniels by losing three straight one-score games, including a blown 20-point lead to Arizona in Week 2, the Raiders (1-3) managed to do enough on the ground and on defense to hold off Russell Wilson and the Broncos (2-2).

“We kind of had the mindset we wanted this to be a physical game and leaned on Josh and the running game a little bit more than what we have and really established that,” McDaniels said. “Our goal was to try to make it that kind of game and make it a fourth-quarter game.”

Maxx Crosby had two of Las Vegas’ three sacks, and Robertson had the game-changing play late in the first half as Denver repeatedly failed to take advantage of good field position.

After getting a 5-yard TD pass from Wilson to Courtland Sutton to cap a 34-yard drive in the first quarter, the Broncos turned three other chances with prime field position into one field goal and the fumble by Melvin Gordon III that Robertson returned for the touchdown.

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Wilson had his most efficient game of his short tenure in Denver, completing 17 of 25 passes for 237 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a 3-yard TD that cut the Raiders’ lead to 25-23 after completing a 55-yard pass to KJ Hamler.

But Denver scored only once on six drives in the second half.

“We have to get better,” first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “Across the board as an offense, I think we will.”

Jacobs put it away with a 7-yard TD run with 2:01 to play. He became the first Raiders player to rush for at least 130 yards and two TDs in a game since Darren McFadden did it in 2011 against the Jets.

“We had to go down there and call game,” Crosby said. “Josh Jacobs is a damn baller. That’s been my brother since day one. I’m so happy for him. He went down there and closed the game.”

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Carr didn’t have to do much for the Raiders, completing 21 of 34 passes for 188 yards as Las Vegas got the running game going for the first time this season. Davante Adams had nine catches for 101 yards.

Jacobs scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and set up a field goal in the third with a 42-yard run that was his longest since his rookie season in 2019.

The Raiders finished with 212 yards rushing for their most in a game since getting 218 against the Broncos in 2016.

“He’s one of the best runners that I’ve ever been around,” McDaniels said about Jacobs. “I’ve been around some good ones. He has a great ability to make yards after contact. He has a great ability to make yards even if there’s not a whole lot there right away.”

SURPRISE SCORE

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The Raiders’ defense got into the scoring mode for a change when Duron Harmon forced Gordon’s fumble and Robertson took it to the end zone.

It was the first TD by the Raiders’ defense or special teams since Erik Harris had a pick-6 against the Chargers on Nov. 7, 2019. The 43 regular season games without one was the second longest of the Super Bowl era, trailing only a 49-game streak by the Browns from 1979-82.

The play came shortly after Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy motioned at the 5-foot-8 Robertson that he was too short to cover him.

“Once he started talking, it kind of elevated my play,” Robertson said.

NOT SO SPECIAL

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Both teams had their issues on special teams with Tyron Johnson botching a punt return that backed the Raiders up near their goal line in the first quarter.

Las Vegas also set up Denver with good field position when a surprise onside kick failed.

Both teams also missed extra points in the second quarter with Daniel Carlson missing his first kick of any kind this season for the Raiders and Denver’s Brandon McManus missing his second in the past two seasons.

INJURIES

Broncos: RB Javonte Williams and edge rusher Randy Gregory both left the game with knee injuries in the second half and will have MRIs to determine the severity. … S P.J. Locke and LB Aaron Patrick left the game with concussions.

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Raiders: LB Denzel Perryman left with a concussion in the first half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Host Indianapolis on Thursday night.

Raiders: Visit Kansas City on Monday, Oct. 10.

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FOX Bet Super 6: Three contestants win Terry Bradshaw's $1,000,000 prize

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Three contestants won a piece of Terry Bradshaw’s $1,000,000 jackpot in the FOX Bet Super 6 NFL Sunday Challenge. Find out how they won!



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Packers beat Patriots in overtime, but Aaron Rodgers' trust issues remain

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