Bruce Arena: “He’s looking like a real number nine.”
Adam Buksa wasn’t a traditional number 9 before arriving in MLS, but he’s growing into the role.
During his five years as a professional in Poland, Buksa mostly played as a false 9 or as a 10 on the wing. With the New England Revolution, he’s lining up as a pure number 9, a shift that’s caused him to alter the way he plays.
“My game has changed since I came here because when I played in Poland I had all the different responsibilities,” Buksa told media on Jul. 15. “I didn’t have one position that I had to stick with.
“Here, I’m mostly a number 9 who has to stay between center backs and hold the ball up and, whenever the chance comes, to convert.”
Although no one could ever question Buksa’s work rate, the striker’s first season in MLS was underwhelming. He wasn’t connecting well with his teammates and was struggling to find the back of the net. He finished the campaign with six goals and two assists. The positive was that three of these tallies came during the final six games, which was a sign of growth.
Buksa has looked better in 2021, though he’s spent some time outside the starting XI. He currently has seven goals and one assist through 15 games. He’s linking up with his peers, serving as a target, and winning aerial duels, all of which are things you’d expect from a pure number 9.
“His background coming to MLS was not as technical and tactical as expected and it’s taken him a little bit of time and a transition,” head coach Bruce Arena explained after Buksa scored his first MLS brace on Wednesday. “But you see in year two that things are getting better and as we now begin to enter the second half of the season, he’s looking like a real number nine.”
Buksa sees the growth as well, saying that he thinks he’s in a “good moment, a good spot now.” He’s focused on working hard and improving every day as he looks to become the number nine that Arena envisions.