Midfielder Gianluca Busio bagged a sensational long-range goal on Saturday to lift Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 win over LA Galaxy in the club’s final match of the 2021 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.
Busio conjured his moment of magic in the 33rd minute at Kino North Complex in Tucson, Arizona, as Sporting Kansas City concluded their four-game preseason slate with a 2-1-1 record.
An end-to-end first half nearly saw Sporting break the deadlock within three minutes. Sporting left back Luis Martins found a pocket of space on the left wing and unfurled a cross that knuckled goalward and forced LA Galaxy keeper Jonathan Bond to touch the ball over the woodwork.
The teams traded chances near the 20-minute mark with Sporting threatening first. Busio drifted into a wide position on the right channel and whipped a low delivery into the penalty area that narrowly evaded 17-year-old Sporting KC Academy product Ozzie Cisneros, who was under duress by a huddle of Galaxy defenders. On the opposite end, LA striker Javier Hernandez settled a cutback from Sacha Kljestan and hammered a shot off the crossbar. Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia was well positioned to swallow up the rebound effort as the opportunity went begging.
Melia had more work to do in the 25th minute when Kljestan probed once more by picking out Cameron Dunbar, but he was yet again equal to the task by casting the shot aside. Cisneros, meanwhile, continued to assert himself by forcing a turnover and springing Busio into the attacking third. The 18-year-old played a clever ball down the flank to Shelton, whose turf-trimming drive was repelled by Bond. Wilson Harris got his foot on a difficult second-chance attempt only to see it carry wide.
Busio vaulted Sporting ahead with a moment of class in the 33rd minute. Stationed near the edge of the box, Harris flicked Jaylin Lindsey’s long throw-in to the feet of Shelton, who touched the ball into the path of Busio. The talented midfielder popped the ball up with his weaker left foot and sent a jaw-dropping 22-yard strike into the far left corner for his second goal of the preseason.
The Galaxy barreled forward in search of an equalizer shortly before halftime and a Sporting miscue afforded Kljestan a breakaway on goal, but the 35-year-old was unable to put his floater on frame.
Sporting Manager Peter Vermes made wholesale changes on the hour mark as nine substitutes took the field, joining halftime reinforcements Cam Duke and Roberto Puncec. Ten minutes into his cameo, Sporting KC Academy standout Kayden Pierre impressed on both ends of the pitch. He first opened up the Galaxy defense, galloping down the right side and squaring the ball to fellow Academy product Tyler Freeman, whose low shot deflected onto the post and was scrambled clear. Less than two minutes later, the 18-year-old Pierre intervened crucially to extinguish a dangerous LA attack.
LA forward Augustine Williams had a decent look to level terms in the 76th minute, but his booming volley didn’t test Sporting goalkeeper John Pulskamp as it fizzed well over the crossbar.
Five minutes from full time, Amadou Dia curled a low cross into the mixer that pinged to the boot of Roger Espinoza, who dragged his shot into a mass of bodies on the edge of the six-yard box. Shortly thereafter, Pulskamp did wonderfully preserve Sporting’s clean sheet with a diving stop to his right.
With four exhibition matches in the bag, Sporting will return to Kansas City tonight and train for the next two weeks at Compass Minerals National Performance Center ahead of a long-awaited MLS regular season opener at the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m. CT. Vermes' side will then host Orlando City SC in a high-profile Children's Mercy Park home opener on Friday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Tickets to Sporting's first four regular season home matches through the end of May are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last.
Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy
April 3, 2021 – Kino North Complex (Tucson, Arizona)
Sporting Kansas City 1, LA Galaxy 0
SKC – Gianluca Busio (Khiry Shelton) 33’
Sporting Kansas City Lineup
Tim Melia (John Pulskamp 64'); Jaylin Lindsey (Kayden Pierre 64'), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (Roberto Puncec 46'), Andreu Fontas (Kaveh Rad 64'), Luis Martins (Travian Sousa 64'); Ilie Sanchez (Felipe Hernandez 64'), Gianluca Busio (Roger Espinoza 64'), Remi Walter (Amadou Dia 64'); Khiry Shelton (Grayson Barber 64'), Wilson Harris (Tyler Freeman 64'), Ozzie Cisneros (Cam Duke 46')
Sporting KC 2021 Preseason Results
|Saturday, March 13||12 p.m.||Phoenix Rising FC||W 4-0|
|Saturday, March 20||5 p.m.||Colorado Rapids||L 0-1|
|Wednesday, March 24||1 p.m.||Portland Timbers||T 3-3|
|Saturday, April 3||2 p.m.||LA Galaxy||W 1-0|