Gianluca Busio celebration 3 - Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo FC - May 29, 2021

Sporting Kansas City’s 19-year-old phenom grabbed more headlines Thursday as Gianluca Busio was named to the United States Men’s National Team’s roster for the 2021 Gold Cup. This marks the first time Busio has joined the U.S. MNT after previously representing his country at the youth levels.

Busio and the U.S. will play all three Gold Cup group stage matches at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, with tickets at $45 via SeatGeek.com and three-day passes also available for games on July 11, 15 and 18.

Below are select remarks from Busio and U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter, who participated in separate press conferences this week to discuss the Gold cup.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio

On his parents’ reaction after Busio told them he had been selected to the U.S. MNT…

They were really excited. I woke my mom up and called her and she was more happy than me, honestly. She is really excited to watch me play for the national team.

On the opportunity to earn his U.S. MNT debut in Kansas City…

Obviously it’s special. I started my career here and I did everything here to get me to the national team. I started my career in Kansas and it would be really special to make a home debut for my country. Hopefully there will be a lot of fans there supporting me if I do get on the field, so that’s something I am looking forward to. I think a lot of players won’t be able to experience that, so hopefully I can.

On training with the U.S. MNT at Compass Minerals National Performance Center…

It’ll definitely make it a lot easier. This is my first camp with the national team, so that is going to be something new to me. But everything else will be the same. I’m not really going far. I know the fields and everything, so that’s definitely a plus for me.

On his discussions with Berhalter about where he will play on the field…

Anywhere in the midfield I think I’m good at, and he said that’s something we can talk about when I get into camp—whether he picks me at the No. 6 or the No. 8. It will depend on how they play with their sixes and eights, so we’ll just think about it. We have a week to get into camp so he told me to think about it and we get (going) we’ll have a conversation about it.

On what it means to represent the United States…

It means a lot. On the youth team, it’s really special to play with that extra passion and represent your country. I played in a youth World Cup and that was a special experience. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like to put on the crest and play in a tournament. It’s a different atmosphere and a different passion. Everyone takes more pride in the game when they put that crest on and I’m excited to do it for the men’s team this summer.

On the U.S. MNT’s Gold Cup roster…

I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old teammates and some guys I’ve played on the youth national team with. There are going to be some young guys and some veterans who will be fun to play with.

On the reaction of Busio’s teammates at Sporting…

They’ve just been excited and happy for me. A lot of congratulations and everything. Graham Zusi had his time with the U.S. and he’s a legend for the national team so hopefully I can follow in his steps.

On the reaction of Sporting Manager Peter Vermes…

He kind of saw it coming, I would say. He thinks very highly of me so he wanted it to happen. He wasn’t really surprised when we got the call. He’s extremely proud of me and happy that I can take this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it and so is he.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter

On Busio’s improvement since March, when he was not selected for the U.S. MNT’s Olympic qualifying roster…

At the time, he was getting used to the No. 6 positions and there were questions about whether we had enough depth at that position with (Johnny) Cardoso, (Andres) Perea and Jackson Yueill not to include Gianluca. Since then, I’ve been really impressed with the way he is playing, mostly at the No. 6 but we also see him being able to play in an attacking midfield position. It’s about timing and it’s about form, and his time has come. He’s done a great job and I’m really looking forward to getting him in camp and working with him, but also testing him at this international level. He will play in games. You guys will see him on the field, and for me it’s a great opportunity to see what he can do.

On his excitement about bringing Busio into the U.S. MNT squad…

To me, it’s about moments and timing. He’s been playing so well that this is just a natural time for him to make this step now. He’s still a young player, but that doesn’t matter. We have a lot of young players in the program. Just look at Gio Reyna and what he did in the Concacaf Nations League. They are the same age and year of birth. We think this is a moment for Gianluca and I’m just really anxious to see how he can perform with our group. He’s really talented player and a really calm player for his age. I think he can make a big impact with us.

On the U.S. MNT spending two weeks in Kansas City and playing all group stage matches at Children’s Mercy Park…

It’s incredible. I remember the days of playing at Arrowhead Stadium with the national team and then playing at that baseball stadium against Kansas City with the LA Galaxy. It wasn’t a soccer stadium. And now to see the (soccer) infrastructure in Kansas City—and to see Kansas City leading the way in the nation in terms of that, other cities are catching up on the facilities side of it. Children’s Mercy Park led the way with a soccer-specific stadium that is just build for the optimization of crowd noise with the Cauldron. The training ground (at Compass Minerals National Performance Center) is amazing. For us, the national team is really comfortable playing there and we really enjoy playing there. We know the crowd can be amazing in Kansas City.