Despite constant praise from Major League Soccer votes, US men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter did not believe in Gianluca Busio. It was not until weeks before the 2021 Gold Cup, after the Sporting Kansas City player arrived at the USMNT training camp, that Berhalter finally began to notice it.
Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes signed Busio to the club’s academy in 2016, allowing the player to step through the ranks before signing an MLS Homegrown Player contract. In 2017, Busio became the second youngest signing in league history at the age of 15. Vermes has praised the player for his unique talent and special abilities on the pitch, hoping that Berhalter would notice it.
For a second we thought it might have gone in …
Go on, @ gbusio13!
(@TUDNUSA) #MTQvUSA pic.twitter.com/Rb2uZMiZZo
– US Soccer MNT (@USMNT) July 16, 2021
“Peter has been singing his praises in recent years and I did not really know what he was about until I started working with him,” said Berhalter after USMNT’s 1-0 win over Canada in their last Gold Cup group stage match. “When I see this kid in training and games, he’s special.”
Busio made his debut in the tournament opener on July 11 against Haiti, where the United States won 1-0 against the Caribbean nation. He became the second youngest player in US men’s national team history to be selected and played in the Gold Cup. He is just one of seven current teenagers on the list representing the country.
Busio was presented in the team’s last group game match and defeated Canada 1-0 to advance to the playoffs as the winner in Group B. During the match, Berhalter noticed Busio’s unique technique and qualities on the ball that differentiate the young forward from other players on the field.
“For him to handle the game as he did and play as he did, it shows a lot about his quality. I thought, at the beginning of the game, he was excellent in his position,” Berhalter added. “Again, we asked him to have a complicated role to go up in attack and down in defense and he could understand it, understand it and perform well.”
The United States will play again on Sunday, July 26 against Jamaica or Costa Rica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals.