Of Clemente Lisa – NEW YORK, NY (August 9, 2021) US Soccer Players – Major League Soccer has been the place for young talent to flourish over the past few years. It’s not that uncommon for a teenager to debut, shine for a few years and then move to Europe. It is a testament to the growth of US football and the power and importance of MLS. A prime example of this is the success of Gianluca Busio, the 19-year-old midfielder who just moved from Sporting Kansas City to Venezia in Serie A.
Busio was born in North Carolina but had an Italian passport through his father. He joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2016. A year later he signed a contract with Homegrown Player and became one of the youngest players in league history.
Busio received his first team opportunity in 2018 and eventually played 61 games in the regular MLS season for the club under coach Peter Vermes, scoring seven goals and eight assists. This season he had an 89% pass accuracy and was key to Sporting KC’s quest not only to make the playoffs but also to fight for the Supporters’ Shield. He’s leaving a contender, something that shows how much foreign clubs value MLS players and how MLS clubs are now doing in the transfer market.
Busio could make his official debut later this month when Venezia opens the Serie A season in Naples on August 22nd. He joins former Dallas FC midfielder Tanner Tessmann, who signed with the Venice-based club last month. USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie (Juventus) and right-back Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma) are other Americans already playing in Italy. In Sporting KC’s official announcement, Busio said the team will “always have a special place in my heart” and that he is “really excited to come to Venezia”.
The opening of Serie A for the Americans cannot be downplayed. Along with Spain, it has always been a difficult league for US players to find opportunities. That suddenly seems to be changing. While a European passport is likely always helpful, clubs make decisions based on talent. MLS is not a league that underestimates players or shows naivety towards the global transfer market. Busio is just the latest example of this.
Internationally, Busio had a busy summer after making his US national team debut at the recent Gold Cup. As part of a US team that showed how quickly it can come together in a tournament, Busio’s game impressed. We met Busio on the eve of his move to Italy where we talked about that Gold Cup experience.
You’ve had quite a summer after winning the Gold Cup. At what point during the tournament did you think the US could win anything?
I think from the start to be honest. I think when we got there we all got there with the same goal. Obviously some players were (played) in different positions than others, but we all came there to win. We didn’t think of anything other than to win. There are things that go into that, but the ultimate goal of the tournament was that we wanted to win everything. After the first game we felt it a bit, but after that (we) we kept evolving. The late goals obviously gave us a little more hope and passion. I think we were just ready for it for the whole tournament. In the end we achieved the goal.
World Cup qualification is just around the corner and it will be a very busy time for the national team. What do you think you can bring to this US team?
I think of course we have technical players. Everyone in the national team has to be very good technically. I bring that to the table and I fit in with it, and of course the calm on the ball. That’s a good thing, especially with these intense games. That’s something I want to bring to the team.
You made your US national debut against Martinique at the Kansas City Gold Cup last month. How was it?
That was really special. It’s the place where I grew up. It’s my (soccer) hometown, my second hometown. It was really special. The crowd was big and they sang my name. It was unreal. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
Sporty blue forever.
Thanks @ gbusio13. pic.twitter.com/UMf5OMFCfJ
– Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) August 9, 2021
Clemente Lisi writes regularly for US soccer players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2018.
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Photo by John Dorton – ISIPhotos.com