Venezia is making waves with American imports into the Italian league

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Venezia’s Gianluca Busio kicks the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Venezia and Spezia at the Pier Luigi Penzo stadium in Venice, Italy, on Sunday, September 19, 2021. The Italian soccer team Venezia is back in the top division for the first time since 2002. And Major League Soccer has used it to recruit young Americans to stay afloat in Serie A. 19-year-old Gianluca Busio came to Venice from Sporting Kansas City and 20-year-old Tanner Tessmann from FC Dallas. (Paola Garbuio / LaPresse via AP)

AP

The team bus is a team boat for the American midfielder Gianluca Busio and his Venezia teammates at home games in one of the most picturesque cities in Italy.

“We’re going to a small port and the (water) taxi is waiting for us. This is the only way to get there other than on foot, ”said 19-year-old Busio.

Last Sunday they came to the team’s first home game in Serie A since 2002 at the Penzo Stadium in Venice.

The city hasn’t changed much since then, but the team has. After advancing to the top Italian league and partying with a boat parade on the famous canals, the club turned to an increasingly reliable source – Major League Soccer – to recruit young Americans to stay afloat in Serie A.

Together with Busio, the team bought Tanner Tessmann and brought Jack de Vries on loan. Only a handful of Americans have played in Serie A, so Venezia’s moves represent a real wave for the red-white-blue.

Busio started on Wednesday and Tessmann came on as a substitute in Venezia’s 2-0 defeat by AC Milan and midfielder Weston McKennie left for Juventus in a 3-2 win over Spezia. Together with Roma right-back Bryan Reynolds, Serie A has never had so many US internationals in the same season.

The success of McKennie and Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Tyler Adams (Leipzig) paved the way.

“That makes it a lot easier for any young American … especially those from the MLS,” said Busio.

It probably helps that Venezia is American-owned, too, although this has become a trend of its own in Italian football. The team has invested in analytics and also imported players from Nigeria, Norway, Iceland and Israel.

Young Americans know they are no longer in Kansas – or in Busio’s case, Sporting Kansas City. He says he needs to “get stronger” and improve his defenses. According to media reports, Venezia paid a $ 6 million base fee that could rise to more than $ 10 million.

Tessmann joined from FC Dallas, which has since spawned high profile academy players, for a reported fee of nearly $ 4 million. Dallas alumni include McKennie and Reynolds, a 20-year-old right-back who spent minutes fighting under Jose Mourinho at Roma.

Busio is the first choice midfielder for Venezia coach Paolo Zanetti. 19-year-old De Vries is with Venezia’s second team on loan from the Philadelphia Union.

Tessmann, who turned 20 on Friday, has played three missions, all from the bank. The 6-foot-3 midfielder wants to improve his off-ball movements and defensive positioning to earn his kit on match days – they are stylish and sell out in stores.

“The players know where they will be and everything is smoother,” said Tessmann. “MLS is more thinking, slower, so all you have to do here is know what you want to do and try to act as quickly as possible. ”

Of course, both want to add to their national team résumés and the line-up for the next World Cup qualifying round is expected next week.

“With regard to the national team,” said Tessmann about his goals, “you just try to be called up to a qualifier, but I can’t do that if I’m not playing and helping my team. I improve every week, every day, just keep working hard, stay mentally focused. “

Harry Kane may dream of becoming a footballer, but Tessmann had a scholarship offer to kick football for Clemson.

Clemson trainer Dabo Swinney, who is Tessmann’s godfather, offered him a scholarship after watching the native Alabama kick a 64-yard field goal at a Clemson summer camp in 2019. He came without training as a foosball player.

“I had to learn a lot in the two-day camp,” says Tessmann. “After the camp, Dabo said, ‘We can get you a scholarship to come.’ I made a commitment at the time, but obviously took a different path and signed a professional with FC Dallas. “

Born in North Carolina to an Italian father and American mother, Busio signed with Kansas City at the age of 15, around the time one of his idols, Andrea Pirlo, retired as a player.

“I grew up with my father and watched all Serie A games and the Italian national team,” he said. “Pirlo will always stand out for me because he plays, composes and is cool, the hair and everything. It was something I was drawn to, and now even more. “

The playmaker Busio received his first assist for Venezia in the 1: 2 defeat against Spezia last Sunday. He runs an average of 11.2 kilometers (7 miles) per game – the seventh highest in the league.

The first year abroad can be exhausting, but it could be worse than Venice, where the biggest decision besides dining and sightseeing choices may be to stroll over footbridges or take water taxis.

“It’s an unreal city, really blessed to live here,” said Tessmann. “I’m a boat taxi guy. It’s just so relaxing. That’s why you’re going to Venice to get on a boat. “


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