Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio and Sporting Kansas City II goalkeeper John Pulskamp (pictured above, top right) earned their debuts for the United States U-20 Men’s National Team this week, making one start apiece as the Americans faced archrivals Mexico on Thursday and Saturday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Busio started on the left wing in Thursday’s match, helping the U.S. to a 2-0 victory with both goals from Cole Bassett. Pulskamp started between the posts on Saturday as the U.S. and Mexico scrapped to a 2-2 draw.
The friendlies mark the end of a U-20 training camp that began on Jan. 17 under newly appointed head coach Anthony Hudson. The camp provided Hudson his first chance to work with the U-20 player pool ahead of this summer’s Concacaf U-20 Championship, where the USA will look to defend its confederation title after winning the 2017 and 2019 editions. The U.S. is set to meet Costa Rica, Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis in the group stage of the tournament.
Busio and Pulskamp will now link up with Sporting for the first stint of the 2020 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. Manager Peter Vermes’ men will arrive in Arizona on Sunday and train throughout next week before meeting a team of Phoenix Rising FC trialists on Jan. 25. Another week of training will precede a Feb. 1 friendly against fellow MLS outfit FC Cincinnati on Feb. 1.
Busio, 17, was recently named a finalist for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year after enjoying a breakout season for Sporting Kansas City and the U-17 Men’s National Team. With Sporting, Busio made 26 appearances across all competitions and scored in three straight MLS matches from March 30 to April 14, becoming the youngest player in league history to score a goal in consecutive games.
Pulskamp, 18, joined the U-20s on the heels of a strong debut season in the USL Championship with Sporting KC II. He led Sporting II goalkeepers in starts (14), victories (four) and saves (45) as one of the team’s best teenage players throughout 2019.