Beyond The Box Score: High-flying Gianluca Busio saves Sporting for second straight week

Let's call it the way it is: Gianluca Busio is starting to make this "Beyond The Box Score" series his very own.

On the same day golfer Tiger Woods stole national headlines with a dramatic victory at The Masters, the 16-year-old Sporting Kansas City academy product reminded soccer fans across the country of his undeniable talent.

Suffice to say it's been a whirlwind two weeks for Busio, who on March 30 became the youngest MLS goal scorer in Children's Mercy Park history and on April 7 became the youngest MLS player to score in back-to-back regular season matches.

Busio continued to rewrite the history books in Sunday's pulsating 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, entering as a second-half substitute and bagging a dramatic 88th-minute equalizer. In doing so, he achieved a feat that no other Kansas City player, regardless of age, ever has.

With his close-range finish on Sunday night, Busio became the first player in club history to score a game-tying goal in back-to-back MLS regular season matches.

Let that sink in for a moment. Sporting has racked up 164 regular-season draws all-time, and never before has the same player accounted for the game-tying goal in consecutive games.

"I say it all the time, he’s not 16," Sporting Manager Peter Vermes said of Busio after the match. "He’s like 25. He’s a very mature kid. He gets it. He’s always in the game and he understands what the game needs. He’s an important player for our club and at the same time, he’s making big strides in a short period of time."

Busio, who has now scored in three straight league fixtures, has four goals for his MLS career after opening his account in a 4-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC last October. He joins the rarefied company of Santino Quaranta and Freddy Adu as the only players to tally four MLS goals before their 17th birthday. U.S. international Jozy Altidore joins that trio among 16 year-olds who have scored three goals in a single regular season.

YOUNGEST PLAYERS WITH THREE GOALS IN A SEASON
(ALL-TIME, MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Player Club Age at 3rd goal Date of 3rd goal
Freddy Adu D.C. United 15 years, 70 days 08/11/2004
Santino Quaranta D.C. United 16 years, 245 days 06/16/2001
Gianluca Busio Sporting Kansas City 16 years, 321 days 04/14/2019
Jozy Altidore New York Red Bulls 16 years, 328 days 09/30/2006

Busio's late equalizer on Sunday extended Sporting's MLS unbeaten run to five matches—a streak that could conceivably be six if not for a last-minute concession in a 2-1 defeat at LAFC in the 2019 curtain raiser on March 3. The goal also prevented Vermes' men from suffering a rare setback at Children's Mercy PArk. Since June 2016, Sporting's three regular season home losses are the fewest in MLS (not including 2018 expansion side LAFC and 2019 expansion team FC Cincinnati).

FEWEST HOME LOSSES IN MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE JUNE 2016
(EXCLUDING 2018 and 2019 EXPANSION TEAMS)

Losses Club Record (W-L-T)
3 Sporting Kansas City 29-3-14
4 New York City FC 29-4-13
5 Portland Timbers 30-5-9
5 FC Dallas 27-5-15
5 Atlanta United FC 22-5-9

Having scored against three straight MLS clubs from the East, Busio and Sporting will now prepare for a Western Conference road battle on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes. Vermes’ side is 5-0-2 versus San Jose in the last seven meetings and will aim to improve upon that record in a 9 p.m. CT matchup at Avaya Stadium, slated to air live on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

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