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Busio-less USA U-23s fall to Japan in Kansas City

No Busio and no bueno for the United States as they hosted Japan in the final tune-up for the U-23s headed to the Olympics.



Credit: Thad Bell

The United States U-23 Olympic squad made their way to Kansas City to face off with Japan’s youth setup as final preparations continued for the 2024 Paris games. Former Sporting Kansas City midfielder, Gianluca Busio, was on the roster but unavailable due to an injury he picked up in the game that sent Venezia back up to Serie A in Italy. Without Busio, it was a mostly youthful lineup (U-23 is in the title) with a notable overage exception in Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) at center back.

First Half

The game was off to a quick start for Japan and an unlucky handball just inside the 18-yard-box from former FC Dallas man, Bryan Reynolds, led to a Japan penalty kick and opening goal.

The Japanese player basically came to a full stop on his PK run up, but he ultimately beat Columbus Crew keeper Patrick Schulte. Japan up 1-0.


From there Japan maintained a steady pressure until a series of near misses in the 18th minute. One forcing a last second intervention from a defender (sorry, there are no official stats to this game) and another forcing a save from Schulte.

The United States started to settle into the game a bit in the minutes that followed, forcing a few semi-dangerous balls into the box. However, their most promising chance was stopped by the head of Rihito Yamamoto who left on a stretcher and was subbed off.

The injury immediately shifted momentum back to Japan’s youth players who were firmly in control at this point. The sustained possession reminded me of vintage Sporting KC. A lot of control, but no chances. Eventually the US finally seemed to settle into the game and get a little control. It almost flipped on its head as a potential foul was missed in the midfield that sprung a Japanese counter. Fortunately for the US, the eventual shot would safely roll past the near post and out for a goal kick.

The United States best “chance” of the half didn’t result in a shot. It was a beautiful through ball from Taylor Booth to Griffen Yow. Yow tried to touch it around Japan’s keeper, but he flew way outside the box to slide tackle it away.

Moments later, Tanner Tessman picked up a yellow card for a clear foul. The game would go into the half 1-0 Japan off the early penalty kick.

Second Half

The United States made a triple sub to start the second half of the friendly, bringing on three MLS players in Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Nathan Harriel (Union) and John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls).

Almost immediately an impact was made but the US still failed to get a shot off after a very nice build up.

Shortly after, Walker Zimmerman would go into the book after Booth left a hospital ball that he was a step late to. It didn’t matter though as something had changed at halftime and the US were all over Japan. The fouls started picking up for Japan but, despite the complaints, the cards weren’t coming out. Then the US had a breakaway with a PK shout just inside the box that the ref also waived off.

In the 62nd minute, Tanner Tessman (Venezia FC) left the game for Benjamin Cremaschie of Inter Miami. He immediately turned the ball over but was bailed out by CB Jonathan Tomkinson (Bradford City). In the 68th minute current Chivas and former San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell replaced Duncan McGuire (Orlando City). As McGuire left the field, the former player out of Omaha got a nice pop from the crowd.

Unfortunately for the United States, the next pop was a sigh as a defensive miscue led to Japan’s second goal off a turnover on a throw in. Japan up 2-0.

Not long after that an attempt to start the wave broke out in the American Outlaws section. Always a good sign for how things are going. Japan continued to be mostly in control. They earned fouls, setup corners and drew yellow cards as the minutes ticked down a Japan victory.

The US were outshot nine to two and most importantly, outscored 2-0.Β The United States play hosts France on July 24th next.

If you want to watch the whole game, it’s available on YouTube.

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Thad Bell

Not their finest game.

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