Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio exploded for three assists in a man-of-the-match performance on Tuesday, leading the United States U-17 Men’s National Team to a 4-0 semifinal win over Canada in the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
After dominating for extended periods throughout the first period, the Americans opened the floodgates after intermission with four second-half goals to bury Canada and advance to Thursday’s tournament final against archrivals Mexico.
Busio played an integral role in the swarming second-half display, creating the breakthrough by teeing up Bryang Kayo for the game-winner in the 47th minute. Raphael Wicky’s side was well on its way to victory when Gio Reyna bagged a brilliant free kick on 63 minutes to double the lead.
The 16-year-old Sporting KC Academy product wasn’t finished, however, as he won a tackle to set Ricardo Pepi through for a simple finish in the 78th minute. Busio’s third helper of the night was delivered four minutes later with a gorgeous ball into the path of Pepi, who slotted low to round out the scoring.
While Busio went the full 90 minutes on Tuesday, his club teammate Tyler Freeman was an unused substitute. The Sporting duo will now aim to secure the USA’s first Concacaf U-17 Championship since 2011, with the final versus mexico slated for 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday. The match will stream live in English on the Concacaf Facebook page and air live in Spanish on Univision Deportes.
Thursday's clash between the USA and Mexico is a rematch of the 2017 Concacaf U-17 Championship Final, which saw Sporting defender Jaylin Lindsey and the Americans fall in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw through regulation. El Tri have won three straight tournament titles and an all-time best seven overall.
Busio, Freeman and the USA U-17s prevailed 3-0 in Sunday’s quarterfinal versus Panama to punch a ticket to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later this year. The U.S. will be one of four representatives from the Concacaf region alongside Canada, Mexico and Haiti.
Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, Busio has amassed five goals and three assists in five appearances at the Concacaf U-17 Championship. Only Reyna (six) and Costa Rica’s Geancarlo Castro (seven) have more goals at the tournament.
USA U-17 Results at Concacaf U-17 Championship
|May 2||Canada||W 3-2||Group F|
|May 4||Barbados||W 6-1||Group F|
|May 6||Guatemala||W 3-0||Group F|
|May 9||Guadeloupe||W 8-0||Round of 16|
|May 12||Panama||W 3-0||Quarterfinal|
|May 14||Canada||W 4-0||Semifinal|