Gianluca Busio: Representing the USA in Kansas City will be special

GOAL: Gianluca Busio strikes first off turnover | April 23, 2021

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio is on the brink of representing the United States Men’s National Team for the first time as the Americans prepare for their Concacaf Gold Cup Group B opener at 8 p.m. CT on Sunday against Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park.

Concacaf Gold Cup tickets at Sporting’s home stadium start at $45 via SeatGeek.com and three-day passes can be purchased for access to all five international matches from July 11-18.

Busio spoke to media this afternoon ahead of what could be his highly anticipated U.S. MNT debut this weekend. His full remarks are below.

On what it means to rise from the U.S. youth national team level to the U.S. MNT…

It means everything for me. I grew up in the youth national team system and your one goal when you go to youth camps is to make the men’s national team. I took the full progression and I’m happy to be here. It’s a really proud feeling that you get putting on the crest and I’m happy to do it with the men’s national team.

It’s going to be a good experience for me. Not many people get to represent their national team and I’m doing it at such a young age. It’s a special moment for me and hopefully I can do well enough. I’m ready for this moment and I really want to win the trophy.

On the competitiveness of the U.S. MNT training sessions ahead of the Gold Cup…

It’s all the best players in the country, so it’s going to be a high level no matter what. The session are intense but that’s something that I like. I want to get used to it. To be the best player you can be, you have to go up against the best. We’re working for spots and we want to play and we want to win.

It’s been really intense training but it’s something I have been prepared for and something I’ve been working towards. I’m excited for the games to start but the trainings have been really good. I’ve seen a lot of talent that we have and I’m glad I can fit in with them.

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On joining the national team at age 19 and being the youngest player on the U.S. MNT roster…

I’ve done a lot at a young age. From when I signed (for Sporting) when I was 15, I always wanted to make my national team debut. This is the next step for me. When you’re 15, you just think about getting on the field and making your debut for your MLS team. A couple of years later, you’re trying to get into the starting lineup and be a consistent starter. I did that this year, and now my goal is to make the national team—and that’s what happened.

This is a big step for me and throughout my career I’ve been really lucky with these accomplishments at such a young age. I’m lucky to have that happen and I’m excited for what’s next. I think my next is going to be even bigger and I’m looking forward to it.

On how U.S. MNT head coach Gregg Berhalter plans to use Busio on the field…

I’ve been playing in the midfield my whole career, so I see me playing the No. 6 or the No. 8. I’ve been practicing in both positions, so we’ll see. I think (Berhalter) just wants me to show myself. He called me up for a reason and I deserved that call-up. Now it’s time for me to show that he made the right decision and show everybody that I can do it on a national level.

What I’m looking forward to is making the next step and showing that I can do it not only in MLS but at the highest level for the national team. I’m looking forward to that and hopefully (Berhalter) is looking forward to that and calls me into future camps.

On how Sporting Manager Peter Vermes and Busio’s past experience with the U.S. youth national teams have prepared him for this moment…

The youth national team is a little replica of the senior national team. They try to treat you as an adult and treat you how it’s going to be when you get to the men’s national team. Obviously it’s not as intense or as high-level as the men’s national team, but they try (to challenge you) and with guys coming up from the youth teams, it’s a smooth transition. That made it easy for me and I also know some of the staff from other camps.

Peter (Vermes) has also been great for me. He’s been my coach for me whole professional career and he’s been excellent for me. He’s taught me more attacking-wise and helped me defensively. He’s always been big on the defensive side of the game and that’s something I am trying to improve on. This year especially, he’s really worked with me on that and taught me how to keep my intensity up and always be focused on the game and be ready for anything. Now I’m here and I can take what I learned from him to this camp.

On the pressure of building on the U.S. MNT’s success of winning the Concacaf Nations League and the prospect of earning a place on the World Cup qualifying roster this fall…

There’s always pressure when you play for your national team, especially when it’s at home and you’re playing on your home field. There’s always pressure and everybody knows that, but I think we’re all trying to put that behind us and trying to play our game. I think we’re focused on making it to the final and winning. Coming off a big win in the Nations League, that shows that we can do it. This may not be the same (roster), but it just shows the passion that we’re playing with right now. There were a lot of young guys on that field playing in a final like that, so that’s big. It shows us that we can do it, and with the right amount of hard work and passion we can do the same thing.

It’s going to be hard for anyone to make the World Cup qualifying roster, especially me since this is my first camp. I’m taking this as a trial for that. I want to play well enough so that (Berhalter) has to call me in for qualifying. That’s something I’m focused on and trying to get out of this camp.

On representing Kansas City during his first stint with the U.S. MNT…

I’ve grown here and it’s special that my first camp is pretty much in my hometown. This is where I grew up and (Sporting) taught me pretty much everything about soccer and taught me how to be an adult. I take pride in that and Kansas City has a special place in my heart. For me to be representing my country in my hometown, pretty much, is special. Not many players are ever going to experience that, and I am experiencing it in my first camp. I’m pretty lucky in that sense and excite to get out there on my home field and see the fans wear national team jerseys instead of Sporting jerseys.

On the transfer speculation surrounding Busio…

I think I’ve learned how to put that behind me. Now I’m focused on the Gold Cup. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. When I was with Kansas City and playing MLS games, that’s what I was focused on. That (transfer speculation) will figure itself out and I have people around me who can handle that for me. My focus is on playing soccer and playing as well as I can in the Gold Cup. After that, it’s something my agent has to think about. But right now I’m focused on the next training and the next game and that’s where my head is at.