Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio earned his second straight “22 Under 22” selection on Thursday, coming in at No. 9 in MLSsoccer.com’s ranking of the best players in Major League Soccer under the age of 22.


At age 18, Busio jumped one spot in the “22 Under 22” presented by BODYARMOR after coming in at No. 10 in 2019. The Sporting Kansas City Academy product has notably become the second-youngest active MLS player to record five goals and five assists in the regular season, doing so in 46 league appearances since his club debut in 2018.


Busio has played in all but one of Sporting’s 20 matches this season across all competitions, tallying a goal and three assists as a versatile contributor who has featured in the defensive midfield, attacking midfield and winger positions. He has shouldered an increasingly pivotal role for Sporting since MLS returned to home markets in August, starting 12 matches and logging the full 90 minutes on 10 occasions. During that stretch, Busio scored a stunning long-range goal in a 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 29, assisted a Johnny Russell header in a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on Sept. 19 assisted both of Alan Pulido’s goals in a 2-1 road triumph over the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 3.


Among active MLS teenagers during the 2020 regular season, Busio ranks first in recoveries (77), second in primary assists (three), second in successful passes (521), second in chances created (15), third in tackles won (23) and third in duels won (69). Furthermore, his 86.4% passing accuracy and 80.3% passing accuracy in the attacking half are the best in MLS among teenagers with at least 150 pass attempts.


After signing as a Homegrown Player in 2017 at age 15—becoming the second-youngest player in MLS history at the time—Busio enjoyed a first-team breakthrough in 2018 as the club’s youngest player to start a match, score a goal and record an assist. He took another step forward in 2019, scoring in three straight MLS matches from March 30 to April 14 and ending the year with 26 appearances in all competitions. He has played 53 competitive games for the club as one of eight Academy products on Sporting’s current roster.


After releasing eight editions of the “24 Under 24” series from 2010-2017, MLS transitioned to a younger group of players in 2018 with “22 Under 22.” The newest list ranks the top 22 players in MLS who are under the age of 22 as of Nov. 8.


The 2020 list reflects votes submitted by a panel of 18 individuals—including members of the MLS Media team, MLS Player Department and youth soccer experts—who ranked eligible players based on their technical ability, tactical IQ, physical attributes and future potential.


Busio and fellow Academy product Jaylin Lindsey (ranked No. 20 in 2018) are the two players on Sporting’s current squad who have earned “22 Under 22” recognition. Additionally, Busio is the first player in club history to crack the top 10 of the rankings twice.


Sporting KC: 22 Under 22 and 24 Under 24 Selections (all-time)

  • 2010: Ryan Smith (12), Teal Bunbury (17)
  • 2011: Teal Bunbury (5), C.J. Sapong (15)
  • 2012: C.J. Sapong (2), Teal Bunbury (20)
  • 2013: Oriol Rosell (14)
  • 2015: Erik Palmer-Brown (24)
  • 2017: Erik Palmer-Brown (17)
  • 2018: Jaylin Lindsey (20)
  • 2019: Gianluca Busio (10)
  • 2020: Gianluca Busio (9)