KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City earned three points in its Major League Soccer home opener Sunday, with a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union. Here are three things we learned:
Busio isn’t going anywhere
Sixteen-year-old Gianluca Busio notched his first home start for SKC Sunday, becoming the youngest player to ever start an MLS match at Children’s Mercy Park. Knowing Busio is so young, that seems incredible. But it was the natural next step for a player whose star continues to rise. He started a road match for SKC last year against Houston and played extensive minutes in Kansas City’s Concacaf Champions League matches this year.
Still, it was an historical moment for him. And he fit right in.
“It’s remarkable, and I say that, because he’s 16 and he’s playing out there with some guys that are double his age,” Vermes said. “For him to have the kind of maturity he has out on the field, and he really does, he has incredible street smarts in the game – he sees things other guys don’t. … Great performance by him.”
Tim Melia was next-level
Tim Melia is a great goalkeeper. But his work on penalty kicks is truly some of the best in the league. He’s saved eight of the 20 PKs he’s faced during his time at SKC (eight of 21 in his career). He’s holding steady at more than double the average PK save rate in Major League Soccer.
There’s never really a situation where a player steps to the penalty spot, and you expect the shot to be saved. Goalkeepers aren’t expected to come out on top in that matchup. But Melia is about as close as you can get to expecting failure from the PK shooter.
Even without goal, Nemeth makes impact
At times throughout Sunday’s match, you probably could have forgotten that Nemeth was playing. He’s a goal-scorer, of course, and when he doesn’t score goals, his play feels quieter.
But he’s also doing exactly what manager Peter Vermes brought him back to Kansas City to do.
“There’s a time for a center forward to be selfish and there’s other games you want them to be unselfish,” Vermes said. “Most of the time they can’t figure that out. They only want to be selfish because they want to score. He has a great ability to bring other players into the game. That’s one of the reasons I left him out on the field today, because I thought he was helping us in other ways.”