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After impressive USMNT debut, what will Gianluca Busio do for an encore?


As far as national team debuts go, Gianluca Busio had a very good one.

Playing at the stadium he calls home, Children’s Mercy Park, and in front of the Sporting Kansas City fans who have grown to love him in recent years, Busio turned a 28-minute cameo on Sunday into a mouth-watering preview of what has the looks of an exciting future with the U.S. men’s national team.

Now what can he do for an encore?

With Thursday’s Gold Cup group stage match against Martinique up next, and a group finale against Canada looming large on Sunday, Busio is a good bet to earn his first national team start on Thursday, giving him an immediate chance to build on the strong showing he delivered against Haiti.

“It’s great to see his development, it’s great to see the work that Sporting KC put in to get them to this place,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said on Sunday. “When he came in the game, he showed a ton of calm and poise and, for the coaching staff, he did an excellent job in the game.”

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Busio made an impact on Sunday almost as soon as he entered the match, forcing a good save on a hard shot shortly after entering, and showing the two-way ability by winning three duals and recording a pair of recoveries while also completing 90 percent of his passes and showing real poise in possession.

Also working in Busio’s favor was the lackluster performance of the USMNT’s starter in the defensive midfield role, Jackson Yueill. The San Jose Earthquakes midfielder completed 64 of 74 passes, and did record nine recoveries, but his lack of attacking initiative with his passing from deep in midfield was evident, and while Berhalter didn’t call out Yueill by name, his post-game comments lamenting the lack of attacking aggressiveness could have been linked to Yueill’s performance.

“I missed the urgency to score more goals and to be dangerous and first pass forward and aggressive,” Berhalter said on Sunday. “To me, it was way too slow, way too backwards. Not enough intent to turn it around and get them get them defending in the penalty box.”

The defensive midfield role was one of the positions expected to face the most scrutiny heading into the tournament, with Yueill and Kellyn Acosta expected to vie for the starting role, and potentially the back-up role behind Tyler Adams on the full USMNT for World Cup qualifying in September.

Acosta was deployed in an attacking midfield role against Haiti, and enjoyed a strong game, and is a good bet to be shifted into the defensive midfield spot for the all-important group finale against Canada on Sunday, but Busio will have a chance on Thursday to make his own case for a chance to start against the Canadians.


  1. So, has Yueill ever shown well for USMNT? He seems to get a lot of opportunities, not just in friendlies but in tournaments and yet consistently disappoints. He must train extremely well to be put on as a starter considering he has lost his starting number 6 role in two tournaments and now maybe a third. Meanwhile, a guy like Julian Green can’t even get a sniff. I know, different roles, but he’s shown he’s a fighter and produces results in big moments. He would have slotted into several roles that this squad looks deficient in.

  2. I thought Acosta was all offense but no defense, and I thought Busio we basically appreciated someone whacking a shot on cage from 30 and hustling about for a change, but was only OK. Kind of speaks to his poor midfield selections that any amount of impact draws attention. We left a lot of good mids off the list. This is liking your porridge when you’re starved.

  3. Is he suggesting Yeuill — ironically picked for passing — is not very good at offense? I am shocked shocked shocked. My 2 cents by the time you are starting a defensive “IQ” guy who is merely OK at passing any attacking mid would probably be better at 6 than he is. Unless you get excellent defense or Pirlo level passing the Berhalter style 6 is a crock. You’d be better off committing to either more offense or more defense as opposed to “mush.”

    • This coach is glacially slow on the uptake. Could have told him this about Yeuill back in 2019. Worst part is if you watched Haiti go end to end, we don’t get the midfield defense either.

      • agree, its annoying how slow Berkhalter is at in knowing who is not international level. Jackson and Lewis should not be on this team

  4. Standout player. Deserves a roster spot. Period. Look at how Mckennie gets moved around by Pirlo. Came up as a 6, but can play many spots. If you have talent, a place usually opens up. Now does he make the starting 11 at the WC? I don’t know. We are getting pretty deep. It’s crazy. Weah as a RB. Could happen for USA as well as for Lille. So many more options now than in the past. Busio is a rising star, though.

  5. I like Busio but man……can all soccer outlets stop anointing this guy the next coming??!!

    Literally, SBI, MLS, Goal and soccernet are pumping out Busio content.

    Great free kick couple weeks back and solid play…..but let’s see him do something over a longer period before he is “2nd coming of Pirlo” …..(as one has it….)

    • I don’t know Wayne, do you see the way this guy moves the ball around the field. That in and of itself is most impressive. Add his off the ball movement, his defensive chops, all of which look like they are still growing and maturing. His striking ability! Now that our country is really starting to produce some real gems, we need to learn how to harness this to the max. His middle name is Cristiano, and he was raised by a single mother who got her doctorate, while raising three kids. This guy is custom made for the roll. And Italy won the euros! This could just be an eye opening, water shed moment for US soccer.

      • Before the Haiti game I saw Busio play against the Galaxy in a game SKC won. I kept looking for him to do something. He was largely invisible. I admit I haven’t seen many SKC games, but in those couple I’ve seen he has not distinguished himself. If he is really good, he would be noticeable every game. I keep pumping the Galaxy’s Araujo for a good reason. He has done well and shown up well just about every game this MLS season. He has been much better than his Galaxy teammate Efrain Alvarez who has been playing a lot in the GC for Mexico.

    • A while back I remember Brek Shea getting the “next big star” anointing after a decent game against Cuba. A real head scratcher, that one. That said, Busio at least has the potential, which Shea never actually did have.

  6. The six and eight spots are usually as good as the guy you are playing with. The awareness of balance and interchange between the two spots in the middle third of the field is very much the engine for tempo, defending, and offense. Both positions require serious fitness and willingness to suffer throughout a match. We know Jackson shows grit, determination, and stamina. However, he falls short physically and rarely breaks lines with passes. Acosta has energy, quickness, talented with both feet. But he gives the ball up in poor spots and not an accurate passer. Williamson, is physical on the ball defending and possessing it. Can link well in the final bird, with the ability to play quick passes in tight spots. Willingness to break defenses with the dribble opens up the field for offensive players. His downside is he will disappear when the ball does not come his way and will play low percentage passes in the defensive third.
    Is Busio all that and more? Is he a 6? I think that position is how he makes a living as a professional and a chance to make the WC team.

    • I’ve seen a LOT of slander in this thread (not you specifically) but Busionis the real deal. Been watching him for three years. So I think I have some standing to say, this kid is NOT a product of the US hype machine.

      He has serious grit and determination. In someways he has followed the same path that many of our euro stars have taken. Leaving home at 14 years old to move 1000 miles away from home to pursue a professional career. He has been brought along steadily with multiple intermediary goals along each part of the path. And by all accounts from his head coach, trainers and etc. He meets the mark every time. Just when people think there’s just too much of a challenge in front of him, he meets and exceeds expectations. Hr got a 30 minute cameo and met/exceeded expectations again. Is that consistent with his past performance? Maybe he will do it again if he gets the start tonight?

      Peter Vermes is an old school gaffer. He’s not a guy who uses flowery language and goes around here and there handing out compliments. Have you guys read what his trainer and the pros (some who are WC vets) have to say about this kid? Intelligence, hard working, belief, humble, learner and performer. This are the words they use. THAT AIN’T HYPE.

      I want to double down on something I said earlier. Everybody (self included) stop the pronouncements and just watch what he does on and off the field. He continues to meet and exceed expectations along every step of the path. That’s what I’m hanging my assessment on. Consistent performance over time. He is headed in the right direction furthermore he has great support in all areas of his life to help him become a consistent professional player. There’s only one Pirlo. There will never be another. Maybe, just maybe, his story will end with the statement, “there’s only one Busio”.


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