Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio earned his first start for the United States Men’s National Team on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park, assisting a goal from Kansas City native Nicholas Gioacchini to punctuate a dominant 6-1 victory over Martinique in the Concacaf Gold Cup.

After making his prophetic U.S. MNT debut as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s win against Haiti at Sporting’s home stadium, Busio logged the full 90 minutes versus Martinique and became the second youngest U.S. player to start a Gold Cup match at 19 years and 48 days.

Busio completed a game-high 68 passes on Thursday and tallied a deserved assist in the 90th minute, crossing the ball low to Gioacchini to round out the scoring in a one-sided encounter that pushed the Americans’ unbeaten record at Children’s Mercy Park to 7-0-1 all-time.

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The 6-1 result effectively punches the United States’ ticket to Concacaf Gold Cup knockout rounds and a quarterfinal date on July 25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The U.S. and Canada have secured the top two spots in Group B and will lock horns Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park in a pivotal group stage finale at 4 p.m. CT. Canada holds the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of greater goal difference, meaning the U.S. must win to finish atop the group.

A very limited number of tickets for Sunday’s all-important contest between the U.S. and Canada are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last. The game will air nationally on FOX, the FOX Sports app, TUDN and Univision.

Busio went agonizingly close to opening his U.S. MNT scoring account twice within the first 25 minutes, hammering a free kick marginally wide before rattling the underside of the crossbar with a venomous blast from 15 yards.

Daryl Dike nodded the Yanks ahead in the 14th minute off a pinpoint Matthew Hoppe cross and forced Martinique’s own goal nine minutes later. The U.S. added to their lead after halftime, with Miles Robinson heading home in the 50th minute and Dike embarking on a bulldozing run before finishing with a dazzling scoop shot on the hour mark.

Martinique cut their deficit to 4-1 when Serie A veteran Emmanuel Riviere buried a penalty kick, but substitute Gyasi Zardes restored the four-goal cushion with a well-taken strike in the 70th minute. That set the stage for Busio to put the finishing touches on the contest, squaring low for Gioacchini to find the back of the net in his hometown.

Group B: First-place Canada tops Haiti

Group B leaders Canada kicked off the Children’s Mercy Park doubleheader with their second consecutive 4-1 win of the tournament, sweeping aside Haiti thanks to a Cyle Larin brace and additional strikes from Stephen Eustaquio and Junior Hoilett. Haiti delivered a spirited performance despite the defeat and received a second-half goal from Stephane Lambese.

Due to their superior goal differential, the Canadians can clinch first place in Group B with a draw against the U.S. on Sunday.

The Gold Cup: What you need to know

Held every two years, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for Concacaf and just like in the European Championships and Copa America, lifting the trophy brings prestige and regional supremacy.

Over the course of 15 previous Gold Cup tournaments, the United States has lifted the trophy six times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017), just behind all-time leaders Mexico with eight (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019). Canada is the only other tournament champion, coming away with the title in 2000.

The top two teams in each of the four Gold Cup groups will advance to the quarterfinals on July 24-25 in Arlington, Texas, and Glendale, Arizona. The semifinals are scheduled for July 29 in Austin and Houston before the championship match takes place Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

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