The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its fall 2018 Kickoff Series with a match-up against the 5th-ranked England in London’s Wembley Stadium tonight. For Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta, the game and grand venue will provide him with the opportunity to showcase his talents before an expected sell-out crowd, as the match will include a farewell to the former captain of the Three Lions, Wayne Rooney.
The hard-working Acosta is a prime example of U.S. Soccer’s development success story. Having joined the FC Dallas Academy at age 13, Acosta rose through the club ranks to sign a Homegrown contract while being a key contributor to U.S. teams at the U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups. He helped the USA win the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup and he is one of 15 players have represented the U.S. at a Youth World Cup. Tonight will afford him the opportunity earn his 22nd cap.
Acosta has made the most of his recent play with the national team, often demonstrating flashes of greatness. Many see him as a genuine catalyst on the pitch with considerable long-term upside for the evolving USMNT.
He has also earned a mountain of praise from the US coaching staff, as he has a knack for being in the right place and the right time.
Yesterday, USMNT head coach Dave Sarachan took time to talk with SB Nation Soccer’s Burgundy Wave before the team’s late early evening training session about Acosta. “Kellyn is kind of similar to Tyler [Adams of the NY Red Bulls] in his physical qualities, his ability to cover ground, and ability to get forward.” Sarachan then explained that “the challenge will be what is the best position for him, depending on the team and system that he is playing in. At the individual level, he is not out of place. And like Tyler, he wants to improve and get better.”
Acosta views his game similarly to Sarachan. During yesterday’s training session in Wembley, he spoke with the Burgundy Wave. “The best position for me is the box-to-box central midfielder. I like to be in the mix of the game. Connecting the ball from the back to the front, then moving forward myself.” He added that he wants to “contribute to the game, be in the flow, feed off of the energy.” As for his favorite formation: “4-4-2 tight diamond in the midfield, where I can help control the game better.”
Acosta and the Yanks will have their work cut out for them. With the home crowd advantage behind them, England is out to finish their year strong, sitting only behind Belgium, France, Brazil, and Croatia in the FIFA world rankings. Thirteen players on the England roster were part of the Three Lions’ run to the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Three Lions are undergoing their own transition project. Much of England’s recent success has been credited to manager Gareth Southgate who trusts and believes in the nation’s younger generation of players. As players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and Rooney have stepped aside, the next wave led by the likes of captain Harry Kane, Dele Ali, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Marcus Rashford, and Jordan Pickford have become the fresh faces of this national team. The youth movement has inspired new faith in the football program throughout the United Kingdom.
For Acosta and his teammates, there is no better way close a year of fantastic experiences than a visit to the birthplace of football and then take on one of the world’s most accomplished national teams. The U.S. gets its third invitation to famed Wembley Stadium and they play England for the first time since the 1-1 draw in the opening match of Group C at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Acosta is not in the starting line-up, but hopefully we’ll see him at some point this afternoon.
Check for local viewing events hosted by local @AmericanOutLaws chapters:
- @AOColorado (Denver)
- @AOSprings (Colorado Springs)
- @AOBoulder (Boulder)
- @AOFortCollins (Fort Collins)