Timeline: How Gianluca Busio went from Sporting KC Academy star to U.S. MNT midfielder

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At the ripe age of 19, Gianluca Busio has already crafted a career arc that most professional soccer players would dream of.

Join an MLS academy as an aspiring youngster. Sign an MLS contract as a teenager. Make a professional debut, earn a starting role and blossom as an integral member of the team. Break onto the international stage, starring at the youth ranks before landing a spot on the senior squad.

Busio’s best soccer is surely ahead of him—few American teenagers have a brighter future than he does—but as the Sporting KC Academy product prepares to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team in the Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park, now seems like the perfect time to reflect on how Busio got here.

Let’s jump right in.

Summer 2016: Busio, who spent the first 14 years of his life in Greensboro, North Carolina, leaves his family to join the Sporting KC Academy in Kansas City. The rising talent stays with a host family as part of a program currently supported by the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative.

August 2017: Busio stars for the U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team at the 2017 Concacaf U-15 Championship, scoring five goals in as many appearances as the Americans finish runners-up to Mexico.

Aug. 25, 2017: At 15 years and 89 days, Busio inks an MLS Homegrown Player contract with Sporting Kansas City. He becomes the youngest MLS player since Freddy Adu joined D.C. United in 2004.

April 4, 2018: Two months shy of his 16th birthday, Busio makes his professional debut by starting for Sporting Kansas City II in a 1-0 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Children’s Mercy Park. He finishes the game with 100% passing accuracy, completing all 30 passes and creating two chances.

June 6, 2018: At 16 years and nine days, Busio makes his Sporting debut with a 90-minute outing in a 2-0 road win over Real Salt Lake in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He becomes the club’s youngest player to feature in a competitive match.

July 28, 2018: Busio lands his MLS debut in Sporting’s narrow loss to FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park.

Aug. 4, 2018: Making his first MLS start, Busio becomes the second-youngest player in MLS history to record an assist (16 years, 68 days) by setting up Diego Rubio in a 1-0 road win over Houston Dynamo FC.

Oct. 17, 2018: In a 4-1 road win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Busio becomes the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history at 16 years and 142 days.

April 14, 2019: Busio catches fire in the early stages of 2019, becoming the league’s youngest player to score in consecutive regular season matches. He finds the net in three straight games against CF Montreal, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls.

May 17, 2019: Almost two years after shining for the U.S. U-15s, Busio is named to the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Best XI after exploding for five goals and three assists in six tournament appearances. The U.S. U-17s suffer a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Mexico in the final.

Oct. 27, 2019: Busio scores three minutes into the United States’ 2019 U-17 FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil, providing the Americans’ lone goal in the tournament.

July 26, 2020: Busio nails the match-winning penalty kick as Sporting beats Vancouver in the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 in Walt Disney World.

Nov. 22, 2020: After securing a regular starting spot during the stretch run of the 2020 campaign, Busio delivers in a thrilling playoff win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Children’s Mercy Park. At 18 years and 178 days, he becomes the youngest player ever to score a goal and record an assist in a playoff match. His dramatic stoppage-time strike treated fans to one of the finest moments of the season.

April 23, 2021: In an exciting Children’s Mercy Park home opener, Busio opens his 2021 scoring account with an impressive strike against Orlando City SC.

May 29, 2021: In a dramatic return to full capacity at Children’s Mercy Park, Busio buries a world-class free kick to spark a 3-2 win over Houston. It goes down as one of the best goals in stadium history (subjectively speaking, of course).

July 1, 2021: Busio is named to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time, joining a 23-player roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup.

July 4, 2021: Busio assists Khiry Shelton’s late goal as Sporting jumps atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with a resolute 2-0 road win over the LA Galaxy.

July 11, 2021: Busio stands a realistic chance of making his U.S. senior debut in his home stadium at Children’s Mercy Park. The U.S. MNT’s Gold Cup opener will kick off at 8 p.m. CT on Sunday and tickets for the game are available at