Venezia makes waves with US imports into Italian league

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VENICE, Italy (AP) – The team bus is a team boat for US midfielder Gianluca Busio and his Venezia teammates when they play at home in one of Italy’s most picturesque towns .

“We drive to a small port and the (boat) taxi is waiting for us. It’s the only way to get there other than walking, ”said Busio, 19.

This is how they arrived at the Penzo Stadium in Venice last Sunday for the team’s first Serie A home game since 2002.

The city hasn’t changed much since then, but the team has changed. After being promoted to the Italian first division and celebrated with a parade of boats on the famous channels, the club have turned to an increasingly reliable source – Major League Soccer – to recruit young Americans in a bid to stay afloat in Serie A.

Along with Busio, the team bought Tanner Tessmann and loaned Jack de Vries. Only a handful of Americans have played in Serie A, so Venezia’s moves are quite a wave for the reds, whites and blues.

On Wednesday Busio started and Tessmann was a substitute in Venezia’s 2-0 loss to AC Milan and midfielder Weston McKennie went the distance for Juventus in their 3-2 win over Spezia. With Roma right-back Bryan Reynolds, Serie A has never had so many US internationals in the same season.

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

“It makes things a lot easier for all young Americans… especially those in MLS,” Busio said.

It probably helps, too, that Venezia has American ownership, although this has become its own trend. in Italian football. The team invested in analysis and also imported players from Nigeria, Norway, Iceland and Israel.

Young Americans know they’re not in Kansas anymore – or in Busio’s case, Sporting Kansas City. He says he needs to “get stronger” and improve his defense. Media said Venezia paid a base fee of $ 6 million which could climb to over $ 10 million.

Tessmann joined FC Dallas, which produced high-quality academy players, for a reported sum of nearly $ 4 million. Dallas alumni include McKennie and Reynolds, a 20-year-old right-back who fights for minutes under Jose Mourinho in Rome.

Busio has become Venice coach Paolo Zanetti’s premier midfielder. De Vries, 19, is part of Venezia’s second team, on loan from the Philadelphia Union.

Tessmann, who turned 20 on Friday, made three appearances, all off the bench. The 6-foot-3 midfielder wants to improve his off-ball movements and defensive positioning to earn his jersey – they are elegant and exhausted commercially – on match days.

“The players know where they are going to be and everything is more fluid,” said Tessmann. “MLS is more thoughtful, slower, so here you just have to know what you want to do and try to do it as fast as you can.”

Of course, both are keen to complete their national team resumes, and the roster for the next round of the World Cup qualifiers is expected next week.

“As far as the national team is concerned,” Tessmann said of his goals, “just try to get called up in a qualifying game but I can’t do it if I don’t play, so the first step is just trying to get minutes and help my team I’m improving every week, every day, keep working hard, stay mentally focused.

Harry Kane may dream of becoming a kicker in American football, but Tessmann had a scholarship offer for Clemson.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who is Tessmann’s godfather, offered him a scholarship after watching the Alabama native hit a 64-yard basket at a Clemson summer camp in 2019. He had come untrained as a kicker.

“I had to learn a lot of things at the two-day camp,” Tessmann said. “After the camp, Dabo said to himself, ‘We can get you a scholarship to come and strike.’ I signed up then, but obviously took a different path and signed pro with FC Dallas.

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

“I grew up watching all Serie A games and the Italian national team with my father,” he said. “Pirlo will always stand out to me for the way he plays and composes and relaxes, the hair and all. It was something that attracted me, and now even more.

Playmaker Busio collected his first assist for Venezia in last Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Spezia. He averages 11.2 kilometers (7 miles) of race per game, the seventh-highest in the league.

A freshman’s chore abroad can get expensive, but it could be done worse than in Venice, where the biggest decision beyond choosing restaurants and sights may be how to get there. – walk on pedestrian bridges or take water taxis.

“It’s an unreal city, truly blessed to live here,” Tessmann said. “I’m a water taxi guy. It is so relaxing. That’s why you go to Venice, you know, to get on a boat.

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