Gianluca Busio scores goal - USA U-17s vs. Canada U-17s - Concacaf U-17 Championship
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Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman feature as U.S. Under-17s fall 2-1 to Mexico in Concacaf U-17 Championship Final

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio and forward Tyler Freeman both featured as the United States U-17 Men’s National Team fell to a 2-1 defeat to Mexico on Thursday in the Final of the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Busio had a chance early on to give the U.S. U-17s the lead, but his powerful drive from just inside the area was brilliantly clawed away by Mexico goalkeeper Eduardo Garcia. The Sporting KC Academy product was then heavily involved in the opening goal, as he flicked on a cross into the area that was sent back across the face of goal by Tayvon Gray for D.C. United winger Griffin Yow to head home.

Busio's and Garcia's personal battle continued as the 16-year-old attacking midfielder almost doubled the lead in the 15th minute, but his near-post volley was well held by the Mexican gloveman. Instead, it was Mexico that found the equalizer as Santiago Munoz headed home off a stunning lofted pass by LA Galaxy homegrown forward Efrain Alvarez.

Busio and Borussia Dortmund prospect Gio Reyna were linking up to brilliant effect throughout the first half, and another sumptuous piece of play saw Reyna set up Busio for a clear opening just inside the Mexican penalty area, but his driven strike ricocheted back off the post following a fingertip save from Garcia. The woodwork seemed to be conspiring against the Sporting KC man as in the 25th minute, Busio latched onto a ball in the area and fired toward the near post but the post stood in his way once again.

in the 37th minute - moments after Reyna had rattled the crossbar - Busio once again had a close-range attempt that was well blocked by a defender just yards from his goalline before Reyna lashed the rebound on frame only for Garcia to parry it away.

Busio's fellow Academy product Tyler Freeman checked into the game in the 86th minute with the score tied at 1-1, replacing Seattle product Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez on the front line as the game headed to extra time.

Mexico took the lead through Israel Luna in the second half of extra time, though Freeman had a chance to equalize with minutes remaining as he rifled a powerful low effort on goal off Busio's layoff, but it was well held by Garcia in the Mexico goal as El Tri held on to claim the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship title.

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.

Busio ended the tournament with five goals and three assists in seven appearances at the Concacaf U-17 Championship. Only Reyna (six) and Costa Rica’s Geancarlo Castro (seven) had more goals at the tournament.

USA U-17 Results at Concacaf U-17 Championship

Date Opponent Result Stage
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
May 16 Mexico L 1-2 Final
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