“He’s the deadliest assassin around the goal,” Vermes said after the match. “He’s a special player, that’s for sure.”
But SKC were playing with several reinforcements that have been missing over this tough stretch. Roger Espinoza was back in the mix and an in-form Ilie Sanchez freed up Busio to be a big part of the attack.
A really big part.
But Peter Vermes’ men found themselves on the back foot in the opening stages. The Houston Dynamo were controlling the match and patiently creating very good chances. The ever dangerous Darwin Quintero was getting in on the action as he always does against KC. But Tim Melia was on point from the first whistle.
SKC didn’t even threaten the goal until the 25th minute when Johnny Russell ripped a free kick that went just over the bar. This appeared to wake up the visitors who began showing signs of life. Just a few seconds later Busio came within inches of poking one home from the inside the six yard box.
The breakthrough came in the 34th minute. Ilie Sanchez made an interception with a one-touch pass to Gianluca Busio at midfield. The 18-year-old already knew what he had to do. He took one touch before finding Pulido charging into the final third. But the Mexican striker still had to beat two defenders before slipping it passed Houston keeper Marko Maric for the 1-0 lead.
Perhaps the best news of the night was the return of Roger Espinoza to the pitch. In the 61st minute the 33-year-old came on for his young protégé, Felipe Hernandez, after missing the last five matches. The impact of Roger’s intelligence & experience were immediately on display. He helped produce a flurry of chances before playing maestro on the second goal in the 73rd minute.
Espinoza took the ball at midfield and pushed forward directly into the middle of the Dynamo defense. He left it for Busio who played an absolutely perfect first-time ball to Pulido, who also only needed one touch for a really clever finish.
The goal was so pretty it might remind you why the league was so high on Sporting KC at the beginning of the season.
After playing a defensive role in the midfield as of late, Busio was back at attacking midfield on the night. It did take him a while to settle in with some poor touches and slow reactions, but with two assists on the night the youngster was loving his time in a more advanced position.
But Houston will never go away quietly. Sam Junqua pulled one back for the home team, actually playing in front of fans in the stadium, in the 84th minute. After being in control since the 34th minute, the final stretch of this match was full of tension. That included seven minutes of stoppage time that felt like fifteen.
The 2-1 win puts SKC in 3rd place with 23 points, two back from Seattle Sounders at the top of the Western Conference. This was the first one a nine-game stretch over just 30 days, so we’ve got a quick turnaround. Next up is the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Children’s Mercy Park.