Sporting KC: Rejuvenated Gianluca Busio offers midfield more comfort

Johnny Russell #7, Alan Pulido #9, Gianluca Busio #27, and Gadi Kinda #17 of Sporting Kansas City- (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Johnny Russell #7, Alan Pulido #9, Gianluca Busio #27, and Gadi Kinda #17 of Sporting Kansas City- (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Despite shaky play, Gianluca Busio can still offer Sporting KC some midfield support.

Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio had an abysmal showing in the MLS Is Back Tournament in July. In four appearances-two of them starts- Busio was extremely disappointing considering all the hype he’s had for the past couple of years.

While there isn’t a definitive answer as to what went wrong for the 18-year-old, he was wrapped up with heavy rumors of clubs tracking him throughout the tournament, and mostly clubs from the Serie A. We are now nearly a month removed from the rumors. Busio remains with Sporting KC, and the rumors have taken a backseat.

Despite the recent woes from Busio, Peter Vermes put him right into the starting XI in their regular-season return against Minnesota United. At the same time, regular starters like Luis Martins and Roberto Puncec started from the bench. Busio replaced Ilie Sanchez, who was absent due to a family emergency.

As the big talking point before the match, Busio was lined up as the holding midfielder for the first time since turning professional. Peter Vermes would not regret it as Busio was arguably the best player on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes as he led the Sporting team to a 2-1 win at Allianz Field.

While SKC got off to a nervy start that required a big save from Tim Melia, Busio was able to settle in quite nicely and was immaculate on the ball, which led to a 96% pass completion percentage at halftime and finished the evening completing 91% of his passes. Perhaps the only downside to his performance was losing track of his marker on several occasions.

Along with the impressive play in taking care of the ball was his great maturity and charisma. He was the most experienced midfielder that SKC had for the final 15 minutes to close the game out. Fellow SKC Academy products and homegrown talent Felipe Hernandez and Cameron Duke pitching in. In situations where they struggled last season, Busio stepped up and showed great maturity and discipline in crucial moments while sitting on a yellow card.

Despite all the speculation of his future price tag, he showed real quality in Friday’s win by taking great care of the ball in the crucial number six role. Peter Vermes was thrilled with the victory, and especially impressed with Busio’s diligent performance, comparing him to Juventus legend (and now manager) Andrea Pirlo and describing him as a “deep-lying playmaker.”

When Ilie Sanchez does return, he may have a fight on his hands for the starting spot, or at worst, Busio could come in and relieve the 29-year-old Spaniard. Whichever is the case, Sporting learned a lot about their midfield over just 90 minutes. Even though it wasn’t the team’s best performance, Peter Vermes now knows that he has an alternative to Ilie in the midfield.

While it is just one game, this may be the best performance that Busio has had in his young career. After Friday’s impressive display, Busio’s Sporting KC future may have to be in the holding midfield position.