Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio headlines a talented roster for the 2019 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer, which will see the league’s best young players square off against Chivas de Guadalajara’s Under-20 Team on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida. The annual showcase will kick off at 4 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on Twitter.com and a Spanish telecast on TUDN.
Busio will join a 22-player squad coached by Orlando City SC Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff, who previously served as an assistant coach for the New England Revolution and was part of the staff to coach the United States at the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship.
Chivas de Guadalajara claimed the Liga MX Clausura U-20 title at the end of 2019. The U-20 side boasts numerous players who have earned playing time with a heralded senior team that has captured three titles in the past three years. The Chivas U-20 traveling roster will be named at a later date.
Busio, who turned 17 on May 28, has appeared in 16 competitive matches for Sporting this season as an important midfield contributor. He most notably scored in three straight league games from March 30 to April 14, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score a goal in consecutive matches.
After netting the equalizer in a 1-1 draw at FC Cincinnati on April 7, Busio became the first player in Sporting history—regardless of age—to score a game-tying goal in back-to-back regular season matches with a late strike in a 2-2 stalemate against the New York Red Bulls on April 14. The goal versus New York also made Busio just the third MLS player to hit four career goals before his 17th birthday.
Busio is a member of the United States U-17 Men’s National Team and could represent the U.S. at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil in October. He recently led the U.S. U-17s to a second-place finish at the Concacaf U-17 Championship in May, recording five goals and three assists en route to tournament Best XI honors.
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Busio moved from his hometown to Kansas City in 2016 to join the Sporting KC Academy. He rose from the U-14s to the U-18s before inking an MLS contract as a Homegrown Player in August 2017, becoming the second-youngest signing in MLS history at the time (15 years and 89 days).
Busio made his professional debut for the Swope Park Rangers in April 2018, still aged 15. He then broke into the Sporting KC first team during the latter half of the 2018 campaign, becoming the second-youngest player in MLS history to score a goal (Oct. 17, 2018 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC) and record an assist (Aug. 4, 2018 at Houston Dynamo).
Busio is the fifth player to represent Sporting in the MLS Homegrown Game and the third on the team’s current roster. Fellow Sporting Kansas City Academy products Jaylin Lindsey and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal featured in last year’s match, helping the MLS Homegrowns to a 1-1 draw against the Tigres UANL U-20s.
Former Sporting players Jon Kempin and Erik Palmer-Brown appeared in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game in 2014, with Palmer-Brown also competing in the 2015 and 2017 editions.
The MLS Homegrown Game will be part of an action-packed evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. As part of a dual-event ticket, fans can enjoy the MLS Homegrown Game at 4 p.m. CT and the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by Target at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are available for purchase at: www.MLSsoccer.com/AllStar.
2019 MLS Homegrown Team Roster
Goalkeepers: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Mason Stajduhar (Orlando City SC)
Defenders: Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew SC), Daniel Kinumbe (Montreal Impact), Erik McCue (Houston Dynamo), Noble Okello (Toronto FC), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas)
Forwards: Theo Bair (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Handwalla Bwana (Seattle Sounders FC), Mathieu Choinière (Montreal Impact), Omir Fernandez (New York Red Bulls), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution)
Sporting's MLS Homegrown Game Participants
|2014||GK Jon Kempin
D Erik Palmer-Brown
|T 0-0 vs. Portland Timbers U-23s|
|2015||D Erik Palmer-Brown (2)||T 1-1 vs. Club America U-20s|
|2016||None||L 0-2 vs. Mexico MNT U-20s|
|2017||D Erik Palmer-Brown (3)||T 2-2 vs. Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s|
|2018||D Jaylin Lindsey
M Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal
|T 1-1 vs. Tigres UANL U-20s|
|2019||M Gianluca Busio||vs. Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s|