It was a goal that electrified a capacity crowd at Children’s Mercy Park and sparked Sporting Kansas City’s comeback in a 3-2 win over Houston Dynamo FC Saturday night.
But Gianluca Busio’s perfect free kick early in the second half didn’t surprise Sporting manager Peter Vermes, who believes the now 19-year-old homegrown doesn't gets nearly enough credit.
“What I'm happy about is that people are getting a chance to see what I see every day in that kid and that is that he is not only an incredible talent, but he's incredibly mature for his age,” Vermes said after the match. “The things that he's able to pull off on a regular basis and do it consistently is incredible. He's just got a great attitude. I don't think he gets the recognition that he deserves. He is a fantastic player. He is a great kid. He continues to display what a great soccer player he is every time he steps onto the field.”
Busio’s maturation and desire to wear SKC’s No. 10 shirt this year has been well chronicled. But now he’s backing up that desire with performances like Saturday night’s, which drew rave reviews from coaches and players alike.
“This guy is amazing,” said Gadi Kinda, the recipient of a Busio pass for his 65th-minute winner, the third goal in a 14-minute span. “He plays every game better than his last game. I've never seen a 19-year-old play like this. I love to see him play. He's a top-level player.”
Busio’s impact is felt regardless of the position he plays. He’s seen time as a No. 10, a No. 6, a false 9, all the while proving how valuable he is on the field.
“Anywhere on the field, I want to help the team. Wherever they need me, I'm going to play,” he said. “I’ve been playing really well at the 6 right now and I'll continue to play that way. I enjoy every position on the field, really. Stepping on the field is good for me right now. I think I've done really well at the 6 so far and I just want to help the team win games. That's what has been happening lately and I don't want to change anything right now. I'm happy where I'm at.
Busio turned 19 on Friday. It was a good day, but he wanted even better on Saturday. It’s fair to say, Busio delivered. Just as Vermes expected.
“On my birthday, I was thinking about how I could make it an even better one,” Busio said. “I wanted to get on the scoresheet and I did it in a really, really good way. I'm happy with that. I've had a good weekend so far.”