FRISCO, TEXAS – Marco Bustos’ “dream came true” this week.
And then it happened again.
On Tuesday night, the 19-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency product made his debut with the Canadian senior men’s national team in a friendly against Ghana. He wasn’t able to get much sleep that night – partly because Whitecaps FC teammate Sam Adekugbe was his roommate, he joked.
The next morning, Bustos left his Washington hotel at around 5 a.m. and hopped on a flight to join the ‘Caps in Texas. From there, he had a three-hour nap, a pre-game meal, and then capped off a whirlwind 24 hours by making his MLS debut as a second-half sub against FC Dallas.
After the match, Bustos was asked to sum up the last few days.
“I don’t know if I can,” he told reporters. “It’s an amazing feeling playing for your country. Getting my first cap and then getting my MLS debut within 24 hours … I felt like kid in a park.”
He didn’t look like one.
Bustos, a 5-foot-7 attacking midfielder who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba, entered the match just after the hour-mark and made an immediate impact.
Within two minutes of stepping onto the pitch, Bustos dummied a defender, took a nice touch in the box, and nearly set up Octavio Rivero for a point-blank opportunity. A little later, he slipped in an inviting throughball to Kekuta Manneh, which created one of Vancouver’s best chances of the match (see videos below).
“Great credit to Marco. He made things happen for us,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. “He was confident, he showed no fear, he wanted to get on the ball, he got in the penalty box … technically, he’s a very good player.”
This will come as no surprise to those who have been following Bustos’ progress over the last few years. With the club’s U-18 Residency team, Bustos scored a whopping 49 goals in 69 appearances over parts of three seasons. And the 2013 Whitecaps FC Most Promising Player has continued his scoring prowess at the professional level.
This past season in USL, Bustos was tied for the WFC2 team lead with seven goals in just 17 appearances – he missed the first half of the season with a foot injury. Playing 90 minutes week in, week out in a professional environment has been huge for his development.
“It’s great to get those minutes rather than just training all the time,” Bustos said. “It makes me more confident. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
So what’s next for the young Canadian?
Well, first things first, Robinson said to expect Bustos to play on Thursday when Whitecaps FC visit Honduras to face C.D. Olimpia in CONCACAF Champions League action. And considering Vancouver’s injury problems at the attacking midfielder position, it’s quite possible he could be involved again on Sunday when the ‘Caps conclude the regular season against Houston Dynamo.
“I think he showed [Wednesday] in his 30 minutes that he’s an option,” Robinson said. “I’ll have no worries throwing him in.”
BY THE NUMBERS
In just 29 minutes of action, Bustos took 25 touches and completed 16 of 19 passes.
See his pass graph below (green = successful, red = unsuccessful, yellow = chance created).
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 2016 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are now on sale. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.