MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

"I love what he's doing": Gregg Berhalter impressed with Gianluca Busio at Venezia

It's only been a few months since Sporting Kansas City homegrown phenom Gianluca Busio departed MLS for a club-record move to Italian club Venezia FC, but the rising talent is acclimating himself well to life abroad.

Busio has enjoyed a whirlwind few months. He started all 13 of SKC's MLS matches during the spring before getting his first senior national team call-up for this summer's Gold Cup, where he appeared in all six USMNT games as they won the tournament. While with the US, a move sending him to Venezia was agreed upon and a medical was set for whenever his time with the Yanks ended.

The midfielder has started five of Venezia's six Serie A matches as he adapts to his new club – and USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is impressed, naming Busio to his squad for October's World Cup qualifying matches.

“Man, I love what he’s been doing," Berhalter said on a virtual press conference Wednesday. "He’s really been adapting well, you can see he’s a super smart player. I commented that in the Gold Cup, he plays like an older player. That’s what I’m seeing in Serie A at well. He’s not fazed, he’s competing. Just doing a really good job adapting, you can see he’s already important to the team.”

Given the cerebral nature of Busio's game, plus the fact he was a regular for several SKC seasons before transferring to Venezia, it's easy to forget he's still a teenager. The 19-year-old made 61 MLS appearances before heading to Italy, where he immediately established himself as an integral member of the first team in their relegation battle.

Busio's versatility to play as a No. 6 or in a box-to-box role should prove valuable as the USMNT navigates the pandemic-induced three-match windows, instead of the standard two. The United States host Jamaica, travel to Panama and then return stateside for a home match against Costa Rica to close out the window.

“For us, we see him being able to perform," Berhalter said. "We won’t hesitate to put him in. We know we need rotation, we know we need people who can start the game and also make an impact coming off the bench. We think he’s going to be a contributor this camp.”

The United States sit tied for second in the final round of qualifying with five points from their first three matches. Panama and Canada also have five points, while Mexico currently top the Concacaf Octagonal on seven points. The top three of the eight-team final round advance to the World Cup, while fourth place plays an inter-confederation playoff for a spot at Qatar 2022.