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Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta shines again for USMNT

Acosta might be the best box-to-box midfielder option for the USMNT.

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

He did it again. Kellyn Acosta made Colorado feel awfully proud last night (as well as Colorado Rapids and die-hard U.S. Soccer fans, too). The Rapids midfielder earned his 21st cap and made the most of his 79 minutes of spirited play against Peru’s La Blanquirroja national team in a 1-1 tie.

Soon after joining the Rapids, Acosta was called up to the USMNT camp by Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan for their recent friendlies. As a starter against Mexico, he had three shots total with one on goal before being subbed off in the 84th minute. Against Brazil, he came off the bench and had no shots. During his 20th appearance with the team versus Colombia in Tampa, he made the crowd of 38,000 plus roar with his game-tying goal, his second with the senior national team. No doubt feeding off of the fans’ energy, he went on to give the Los Cafeteros grief with his defensive play, creating numerous turnover including one in the U.S. box that led to Bobby Wood’s 1-on-2 goal.

Last night he stood out again.

The U.S. team strung together a few good attacking chances early in the friendly. Following a 9th minute throw-in on the left side, midfielder Marky Delgado switched the field to send Tim Weah into space down the right. The 18-year-old ran at Nilson Loyola and centered for Kellyn Acosta, whose left-footed hit went wide of the right post.

Around the 49th minute, Jonathan Amon was fouled near the right corner flag, which led to a dangerous free kick opportunity. In a well-worked set piece, Acosta delivered a low ball to the top of the box for birthday boy Josh Sargent. The 18-year-old one-timed the pass, and it deflected off Christian Ramos and Renato Tapia to then roll past Peruvian keeper José Carvallo into the left side of the goal. The shot put the U.S. up 1-0 and brought more than 24,000 fans to their feet.

As of last night’s match, the 22-player roster carried an average age of 24 years, 62 days, while 15 players are 23 years and under. ”When you are building a team, at some point there has to be the proper blend of youth and experience,” said Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan. ”As we head into these last four friendlies of the year, I felt the timing was right to begin that transition. I think it’s important to do it earlier than a week before the Gold Cup or a World Cup Qualifier.

As part of USMNT General Manager Earnie Stewart and Sarachan’s master plan to retool the US Team, key veteran players have been brought into the mix, including Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley and Atlanta’s goalkeeper Brad Guzan. They join players who have been part of U.S teams that played in youth World Cup matches: Acosta, Ethan Horvath, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Marky Delgado Matt Miazga, Josh Sargent, Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin. Acosta was a key contributor in the U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups.

The MNT heads to Europe to close out 2018 and the Kickoff Series next month as the USA makes its second visit to London to take on 2018 FIFA World Cup Semifinalists England on Thursday, November, 15th. The curtain comes down on the 2018 schedule five days later, when the Yanks travel to Genk, Belgium to face four-time World Cup winners Italy at the Luminus Arena.

Given Acosta’s dynamic box-to-box play for the American side these past months, expect him to be part of the team that sets off for Europe.

Watch the complete highlights of the match vs. Peru on October 16th here.