For Sporting Kansas City, the 2021 MLS season presents a fresh opportunity as younger players emerge to cement themselves at the team's core. That's especially true for Gianluca Busio. The 18-year-old is marking a new phase in career by officially becoming the team's new No. 10, both on the roster and on the pitch.
"I think the first two years I've been playing, it was just more of me being a young guy and getting on the field and scoring a goal every once in a while," Busio told members of the media in a virtual press conference Tuesday. "[With] those years of experience for me already, I want to step up this year and really put the team on my back."
While he spent large parts of the 2020 season as the team's deepest-lying midfielder, the versatile Busio is intent on using this preseason to work on his attacking attributes as the team's primary playmaker.
"I want to score a lot of goals and get assists and I guess that's what No. 10s usually do," he said. "I've been working on my attacking a lot more. Like I said earlier, the No. 10 has to be scoring goals and getting assists so it feels big for me, this offseason, just to focus a lot on that final pass or that last goal."
Busio has also mentally prepared to take on more responsibility at Sporting, a task he craves as he moves out of the early years of his career.
"I think that's just something I feel more confident to do," he said. "This year I want to be the guy they're looking at when they need something to happen, the guy who is ready to make a mistake trying things or trying something new. I think this year, I have the experience behind me already and I really want to try to make that jump."
As for the new jersey number, Busio has a special relationship with it. He has aspired to wear the No. 10 jersey for all of his teams since he was playing youth soccer in North Carolina, particularly after his older brother wore it when they were kids.
"It's just been a goal of mine, something I've worked towards," he said. "'It's just very special and for me to get it, it's a big step for me and it's big shoes to fill, but for me it means a lot and hopefully I can do a lot of big things in the number."