Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio and forward Tyler Freeman were named to the United States U-17 Men’s National Team roster on Monday for the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, running from May 1-16 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The 16-year-old Sporting KC Academy products are two of 20 players on head coach Raphael Wicky’s roster for the tournament, which will see 20 nations compete for the continental crown. The four semifinalists will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil as representatives of Concacaf.
The U.S. U-17s were drawn into Group F and will begin the tournament against Canada on Thursday, May 2 at 5 p.m. CT. The Americans then face Barbados on Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. CT and finish group play against Guatemala on Monday, May 6 at 5 p.m. CT. All three of the USA’s group stage games will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network and the Concacaf GO app, available on iTunes, Google Play and online.
At the 2017 Concacaf Championship, Sporting defender Jaylin Lindsey and the U.S. lost the title game to Mexico in heartbreaking fashion, falling in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. Busio and Freeman will look to go a step further this time around, hoping to add a fourth U.S. U-17 title after previous triumphs in 1983, 1992 and 2011.
Busio, a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, previously led the U.S. U-15s to a second-place finish at the 2017 Concacaf U-15 Championship with a team-best five goals at the tournament. That same year, he helped lead the U.S. U-15s to the prestigious Torneo Delle Nazioni title by scoring three goals, including one in a semifinal victory over Portugal.
After netting one goal in seven MLS appearances during his first full season as a professional in 2018, Busio has enjoyed a superb start to the 2019 campaign under Sporting Manager Peter Vermes. The midfielder scored in three straight league games from March 30 to April 14, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score in consecutive matches. He is one of three players all-time to bag four MLS goals before his 17th birthday.
Sporting signed Busio as a Homegrown Player in August 2017 at age 15, making him the second-youngest signing in MLS history at the time. He made his professional debut on June 6, 2018, starting in a 2-0 U.S. Open Cup victory over Real Salt Lake, and later became the league’s second-youngest player to record an assist (in a 1-0 win at the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 4, 2018) and score a goal (in a 4-1 win at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Oct. 17, 2018).
Born in Overland Park and raised in Shawnee, Kansas, Freeman has represented the U.S. at the U-14, U-16 and U-17 levels. He delivered at solid performance for the U.S. U-16s at the 2018 Torneo Delle Nazioni in Italy, scoring in a semifinal loss to Slovenia, before scoring in his U.S. U-17 debut last August in a 2-2 friendly draw against Costa Rica.
Freeman signed for Sporting as the club’s 10th Homegrown Player in October 2018. He joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2014 at age 11 and rose through the ranks from the U-12 to the U-19 levels. He made his professional debut for the Swope Park Rangers, his first of two starts for the USL Championship side. The versatile forward most recently played for the Sporting KC U-17s last week at the 2019 Generation adidas Cup, an elite youth tournament featuring some of the best professional academy clubs in the world.
2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Roster by Position (Club; Hometown; U-17 Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.; 13/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; Calgary, Alta.; 4/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.; 14/0), 3-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 11/0), 13-Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 2/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 10/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 14/1), 2-Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 14/1), 15-John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, N.J.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 7/2), 20-Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.; 13/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (D.C. United; Poolesville, Md.; 0/0), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 0/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 17/1)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Jack de Vries (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.; 0/0), 17-Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City; Shawnee, Kan.; 3/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance; Kent, Wash.; 14/5), 9-Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC; McKinney, Texas; 6/1), 10-Giovanni Reyna (Unattached; Bedford, N.Y.; 8/1), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 6/3)