Ranked fourth in Major League Soccer history for shutouts, behind only the likes of greats Nick Rimando and Kevin Hartman, having amassed 83 clean sheets throughout his career, Jon Busch emerged as one of the United States best goalkeeping talents during his 14-year spell in North America’s top flight.
Beginning his soccer career at Guilderland High School, New York, Busch was soon named as a NSCAA All-American – an award which often predicts those that will go on to have a bright future in the sport. By 1996, while playing for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the developing talent was named as part of the All-American first-team, which singled him out as the best college-level goalkeeper in the country throughout the season.
Following his college days, the promising shot-stopper took up a place in the USL A-League, which served as the second tier of North American football until it folded in 2010, with Worcester Wildfire, before spending the second half of the 1997 campaign with Carolina Dynamo. Busch would spend a total of five seasons in the lower leagues before a brilliant 2001 campaign, in which he recorded 13 shutouts to lead the Hershey Wildcats to the A-League championship match, caught the eye of a number of MLS clubs.
Busch would find his way to Columbus Crew via the 2002 SuperDraft and would go on to win his first major trophy during his first season, as the club beat Richmond Kickers, New York MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards in the U.S. Open Cup to set up a final match against MLS Cup champions La Galaxy. While Busch had yet to make himself the club’s first choice keeper, he had been given the chance to impress in the cup tournament, and a convincing 1-0 win over Galaxy earned him the starting spot ahead of the 2003 season.
2004 would prove to Busch’s finest year, as he featured in all but one of Columbus Crew’s MLS fixtures, helping them to secure a place in the MLS Cup play-offs following an 18-game undefeated streak, in which the talented goalie recorded seven shutouts. However, the next few years would be tough on the shot-stopper, as lengthy injuries limited his playing time to just 17 appearances over the next two seasons.
With his career grinding to a halt, Columbus Crew decided to let their number one go, allowing him to join Chicago Fire, where he would play as back-up to Matt Pickens. However, by the 2008 season Busch would find himself back between the sticks, as he featured in every Fire match, earning himself the club’s MVP award and the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in the process.
After another brilliant campaign with Chicago Fire, Busch would switch to San Jose Earthquakes ahead of the 2010 season. After playing as back-up to two time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Joe Cannon for the first 12 matches of the season, Busch wrestled the starting spot away from his compatriot – the immovable goalkeeper would go on to miss just five more league matches during the five seasons that he spent at the club.
With the end of his playing days on the horizon, Busch opted to join North American Soccer League side Indy Eleven in 2016, with his thoughts set on a future in coaching. Having already gained his ‘B’ coaching license, the 39-year-old is not only operating as first-team goalkeeper, but also working as the club’s Director of Goalkeeping, offering coaching to both the first-team and the club’s B-side in the National Premier Soccer League.
In Busch, Indy Eleven have captured so much more than a fantastic goalkeeper. His experience of playing in the top flight, overcoming injuries and pushing teams beyond their apparent capabilities is just as big of an asset as his goalkeeping abilities and will continue to serve him well in his future endeavours.