The United States Men’s National Team returned to action on Thursday night and the story for Sporting Kansas City fans was the first start for his country for 19-year-old Gianluca Busio. In doing so, he’s the second youngest American to ever start in the Gold Cup.
Another milestone in his home .— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) July 16, 2021
At 19 years, 48 days, tonight @gbusio13 will become the second youngest player to start a @GoldCup match.
He comes in behind only @JuanAgudelo who started at 18 years, 196 days on June 7, 2011 vs. .#MTQvUSA | #GoldCup21 pic.twitter.com/2OI2p7JIfv
He was joined in the starting lineup by debutant Matthew Hoppe. The USA rolled out in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 but the formation would prove to be fluid as the night moved on. At times both fullbacks would be fully forward in the attack along with Cristian Roldan and both strikers. At other times Hoppe played wide with Roldan on the other wing.
It didn’t take long for that attacking formation to really work out. Busio nearly scored first when he took the free kick from just outside the box.
The US would ultimately get on the board first. Atlanta United’s George Bello hustled to keep a long ball in, cut it back to Hoppe who would find Darryl Dike in the box rising up for the head to make it 1-0.
Busio would nearly get his first goal for his country shortly after when Hoppe laid off a beautiful back heel in the box that he’d blast off the crossbar. In the ensuing chaos Dike struck again when he’s header deflected off a Martinique defender to make it 2-0. It was originally called an own goal, changed to a Dike brace and then switched back to an own goal.
It wouldn’t take long for the United States to add to their lead. On a corner kick, Busio sent a great ball in that somehow bounced through the box where the Portland Timber’s Erik Williamson picked it up on the other side of the box and recycled the corner where Miles Robinson would head it home making it 3-0.
After getting his earlier brace taken away, Orlando City’s Dike was a determined man as he would do the defense dirty with an intrepid run through the backline on the way to making it 4-0 for the US.
Finally in the 62nd minute Martinique looked dangerous after a free kick. The ball was pinging all over the box. The United States just couldn’t get a good clearance and ultimately the final shot went wide of the post.
Just after in the 63rd minute, Kellyn Acosta, who had subbed on a RWB for Shaq Moore, pulled down an attacker in the box for a penalty kick. Matt Turner would lean the wrong way and the ball would glide effortlessly into the box to make it 4-1.
Goal to Martinique! Emmanuel Rivière scores on the PK after Kellyn Acosta is whistled for the penalty. It's now 4-1, and that's a dent to the #USMNT's hopes of overtaking Canada on goal differential heading into their group finale— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) July 16, 2021
(via @TUDNUSA) pic.twitter.com/bYhvsymV4C
Shortly after the Columbus Crew’s Gyasi Zardes subbed on for Darryl Dike and made his presence felt immediately. He made it 5-1 with a delightful finish when a pass to fellow sub (and KC native) Nicholas Gioacchini would have been the easier play. Either way, it’s in the net!
68' - Zardes subs on— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 16, 2021
70' - Zardes scores pic.twitter.com/Kn3vldayti
Shortly after Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes) and Donovan Pines (D.C. United) came towards the technical area and it seemed Busio’s night might be over early. Instead, Yueill replaced Williamson and Busio would ultimately go the full 90.
Sporting KC’s young American would have a solid night overall. He took all the corner kicks and had those dangerous chances from a free kick and the sitter in the box. It looked like all his delightful corners would go unrewarded until late when a deflected Yueill shot bounced kindly to Busio wide on the right. He’d step up the right side and blast in a low cross to Kansas City connection Gioacchini who blasted it home for the 6th goal of the night!
The games seventh goal would be it’s last. The United States clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with the win. They’ll play Canada on Sunday afternoon to see who wins the group.