Gianluca Busio

Academy forward Gianluca Busio guides U.S. U-15s to second place at CONCACAF U-15 Championship

Sporting Kansas City Academy forward Gianluca Busio led the United States U-15 Boys’ National Team to a second-place finish at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship last week in Bradenton, Florida.

The 15-year-old Busio tallied four goals across three group stage victories before scoring in Thursday’s 3-0 semifinal win over Panama, helping the United States advance to Saturday’s championship against archrival Mexico. Busio bagged a team-leading five goals in a tournament that saw the U.S. outscore opponents 15-1 before falling 2-0 to Mexico in the final.

Mitch Eise — another member of the Sporting KC Academy — was also named to head coach Dave Van Den Bergh’s 18-man roster for the competition, but the defender suffered an injury and returned to Kansas City before the group stage kicked off.

Busio was the star of the show in the U-15s’ tournament opener, scoring in the 34th and 35th minutes of a 2-0 triumph over Canada on Aug. 13. He recorded another brace the very next day in a 6-0 thrashing of Trinidad and Tobago, then started in Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat of Costa Rica to round out the group stage.

Busio and Eise both featured extensively for the Sporting KC Academy U-16s last season, guiding a team that advanced to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy quarterfinals for the first time.

Busio, who celebrated his 15th birthday in May, scored nine league goals for the U-16s and also earned playing time for the U-18s throughout the 2016-17 campaign. The North Carolina native was one of four Sporting KC Academy players to earn Central Conference Best XI honors. Busio has featured regularly for the U.S. U-15s, notably scoring three goals in Italy at the 2017 Torneo delle Nazioni where the Americans were crowned champions.

Eise joined the Sporting KC Academy last fall from Academy Affiliate Sporting Springfield. Despite being age-eligible for the U-14s, Eise broke into the U-16 starting lineup and started all four matches during the club's playoff run.