Major League Soccer

Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake Preview

Sporting Kansas City captain Johnny Russell foresees a great future for Gianluca Busio, who has started the season in fine form.

Teenager Busio scored in Kansas City's 1-1 draw with Orlando City, and has played every minute of Sporting's MLS campaign so far.

Kansas face Real Salt Lake on Saturday, and Russell believes there has been a real change in dynamic over the offseason in regards to Busio.

"Busio's stepping up," Russell said on The Call Up. "The way he came back for pre-season, something's changed in Busio.

"I don't know if it's his mindset or whatever it is. Whatever he's changed in the offseason, he's come back - you could tell right away when we first started training in preseason that he looked different."

Sporting finished top of the Western Conference this season, and have collected four points from their opening matches.

"It's early days. You don't really know until maybe 10 games into your season how you're going to look," Russell added.

"But to go to New York and get the result, especially after going down a goal, that was a good result for us. Even the Orlando game, we didn't play well, we didn't play anywhere near our standards."

Salt Lake, meanwhile, started their season with a 2-1 win over Minnesota United - debutant Anderson Julio scoring twice, with both goals assisted by fellow new arrival Rubio Rubin.

"You want your attackers to get goals because they need that goal for confidence to keep them going," Salt Lake coach Freddy Juarez said.

"For them to get rewarded, for him to get rewarded on his debut, it's a great individual thing for him. But also the quality of the pass Rubio gave to him, it was an unselfish, wide open pass to him and that's what creates the goal."

Real Salt Lake - Anderson Julio

Julio scored two goals on his Real Salt Lake debut, the first RSL player to score a brace in his first league match for the club since Robby Findley in June 2007.

Sporting Kansas City - Gianluca Busio

Busio has scored three goals (including playoffs) for Kansas City since the start of last season. No other player under the age of 24 has scored for the club in that time.

-Dating back to the end of last season, Kansas City have won three consecutive away matches, including a 2-0 win at Real Salt Lake to end last season.

-It is their longest winning run on the road since winning five straight away games from June to July 2014.

-Salt Lake opened their season with a 2-1 win over Minnesota United to make it 12 straight season openers unbeaten, equaling FC Dallas for the longest streak in MLS history (both from 2010 - present). They have not opened with consecutive wins, however, since 2012.

-Kansas City won both of their matches against Salt Lake last season, winning 2-0 at MLS is Back and in Sandy in November.

-This is Sporting's first two-match winning streak over Salt Lake since 2013, as they have never won three in a row against the team from Utah.

Updated April 30, 2021

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