Gianluca Busio named a finalist for 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio is one of five finalists for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year.

U.S. Soccer announced tonight the nominees for the 2019 Young Male, Young Female and Player of the Year with a Disability awards. Voting for the candidates began today and will close on Dec. 6, with the winner to be announced during the second week of December.

Busio, 17, is on the Young Male Player of the Year ballot alongside Ajax defender Sergino Dest, FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi, FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna.

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from National Team coaches, senior National Team players who have earned a cap in 2019, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, the U.S. Soccer Athletes' Council, select media members as well as former players and administrators. Nominees were selected by U.S. national team coaches.

Busio is the third Sporting KC Academy product to earn a U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year nomination. Former Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown was a finalist in 2013, while current Sporting forward Tyler Freeman was a finalist last year.

Raised in Greensboro, North Carolina before joining the Sporting KC Academy in 2016, Busio tallied five goals at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship in May to earn tournament Best XI honors and help the United States qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil. Last month, he scored the Americans’ lone World Cup goal and started all three U.S. matches in the competition.

Busio became the most experienced professional to ever take the field for the U.S. at a U-17 World Cup after making 29 league appearances for Sporting over the last two seasons. This year, he scored in three straight league games from March 30 to April 14, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score a goal in consecutive matches. He also started in the MLS Homegrown Game on July 30, propelling the Homegrowns to a penalty shootout victory over the Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s.

Busio moved from North Carolina to Kansas City at age 14 to join the Sporting KC Academy. He rose from the U-14s to the U-18s before inking an MLS contract as a Homegrown Player in August 2017, becoming the second-youngest signing in MLS history at the time (15 years and 89 days).

Busio made his professional debut for the Swope Park Rangers in April 2018, still aged 15. He then broke into the Sporting KC first team during the latter half of the 2018 campaign, becoming the second-youngest player in MLS history to score a goal (Oct. 17, 2018 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC) and record an assist (Aug. 4, 2018 at Houston Dynamo).