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Sporting KC draws New York Red Bulls, 16-year-old Gianluca Busio equalizes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It took an 88th-minute goal from 16-year-old Gianluca Busio, but Sporting Kansas City rallied at home Sunday for a 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls.

SKC had a 1-0 lead off a 24th-minute Johnny Russell goal. But they came out flat in the second half, and New York scored twice between the 52nd and 75th minutes to take a late lead.

“I actually thought we were really good in the first half,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “I thought we controlled the game really well and we also created some really good opportunities. We should have scored two, three goals easily in the first half, which would have put the game in a much different perspective in the second half. We let them hang around by not scoring those goals.”

Still, Busio was there to save the result.

Off a corner kick in the 88th minute, Graham Zusi launched a shot that New York stopped. But Busio was in position to clean up the rebound.

“(Zusi) took a shot and it just came right to me, and I just had to tap it in,” Busio said.  

That tap-in saved a point for Kansas City.

For as much as Sporting KC attacked early on (nine shots in the first 33 minutes), the second half was nearly the polar opposite. New York was the team putting the pressure on, getting past SKC defenders and swarming possession.

The Red Bulls’ initial go-ahead goal came off a Daniel Royer run that took him behind the SKC back line, with no one in position to clear. SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia charged off his line to attempt a save, but Royer maneuvered past him and fired into an empty net.

As the minutes trickled down, it looked as if SKC would leave the night without a point, until Busio’s equalizer. The 16-year-old Busio has now scored in three straight matches.

“When he steps into the game, he’s never intimidated by it,” Vermes said. “He always takes on the challenge. He’s got a great head, in all parts of the game. He finds the little seams. He’s always in good spots offensively. He’s got such great upside. It’s incredible.”

What was mostly an exciting match was marred in second-half stoppage time, when New York’s Kaku booted a ball into the stands in frustration, hitting a fan. 

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