Sporting Kansas City announced Friday the signing of 15-year-old forward Gianluca Busio as a Homegrown Player.
Busio’s MLS contract runs through 2020 with options for 2021 and 2022.
At 15 years and 89 days, Busio becomes the second-youngest player all-time to sign an MLS contract and the youngest active player in Major League Soccer. Freddy Adu, who became a U.S. national team staple, was 14 when he signed with D.C. United in 2004.
“Gianluca (Busio) is a very talented player who has the opportunity to progress along our professional pathway from the Academy to the first team,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “He fits our style of play, has great vision on the field and can score goals from several different positions. As Gianluca continues to develop, the structure of our club will allow him to take steps toward his objective of playing at the top level for Sporting KC in the future.”
"This is a dream come true, and I could not be more grateful,” Busio said. “Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of being a professional soccer player, so I want to thank Peter Vermes and the Sporting Kansas City organization for giving me this opportunity. From the day I arrived in Kansas City, they have made me feel like part of the family."
Busio starred for the Sporting Kansas City Academy during the 2016-17 season as one of the United States’ top youth prospects for his age. The versatile forward played three matches for the Sporting KC U-14s before stepping up to the U-16 level, where he scored nine goals in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and earned Central Conference Best XI honors.
At the international level, Busio has blossomed as a key contributor for the United States U-15 Boys’ National Team. Last week he guided the U.S. to a second-place finish at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship in Bradenton, Florida, scoring a team-high five goals in five matches. He previously represented the U.S. U-15s in May at the Torneo Delle Nazioni in Italy, where he scored three goals as the Americans were crowned tournament champions.
Busio also earned playing time for the Sporting KC U-18s throughout 2016-17, scoring in their regular season finale on June 3, before leading the U-16s to their first appearance in the Development Academy quarterfinals. He tallied three goals during Sporting KC’s impressive postseason run from late June to mid-July.
In addition to thriving in the Development Academy, Busio helped Sporting KC reach the championship division of the 2016-17 Generation Adidas Cup, a prestigious U-17 competition involving the best academy clubs from around the world. The forward scored one goal in GA Cup qualifying prior to featuring in the tournament proper from April 7-15 in Frisco, Texas.
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Busio joined the Sporting KC Academy last fall from the North Carolina Fusion, where he competed for the U-14s and U-16s during the 2015-16 Development Academy campaign. He currently attends Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS.
Busio ultimately decided to sign a contract with the Sporting despite overtures from several other MLS franchises. The versatile forward will likely spend the upcoming season with the club's under-17 programs, but could join the senior team soon.
Erik Palmer-Brown was the previous youngest player to sign with Sporting KC when he agreed to a deal at 16 in August 2013. He made his debut with the senior team the following summer.
Busio broke into the U.S. U-15 player pool in 2015 and helped the team win the 2016 International Festival of Futbol title in April of 2016 in Rosario, Argentina. Two months later, he made three appearances for the U-15 BNT at an international tournament in Zagreb, Croatia.
The 15-year-old is Sporting Kansas City’s fifth Homegrown Player in club history and the fourth on the current roster, joining Kevin Ellis, Erik Palmer-Brown and Daniel Salloi. MLS established the Homegrown Player initiative in 2007 to allow teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts. These players must meet Homegrown Player criteria, including participation in the club’s youth system and residence in the team’s Homegrown territory.
Busio will wear number 20 for Sporting Kansas City.
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