After being frozen out by FC Dallas, Kellyn Acosta hadn’t featured for the USMNT in 2018. When he was traded to the Colorado Rapids at the end of July, he was given a new life and he’s taken advantage of it. After a great month with Colorado, he made his return to the national team.
USA vs Brazil
Acosta made his official return to the field in a USA jersey in the 55th minute on Friday night when he came in for Paul Arriola. Within the run of play, he did as well as you would expect. He was solid in possession, avoided bad giveaways, and maintained a good position on the field.
His biggest highlight of the two games came in the 65th minute when he got to work his magic on a free kick. Skip to 1:28 on this video to see it:
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I don’t think Acosta could have walked into the box and placed the ball in a better spot than that. Unfortunately, Weston McKennie wasn’t able to direct it on frame and give Acosta the assist that kick deserved.
USA vs Mexico
This time, Acosta got the start and was able to play 85 minutes before being replaced by Cristian Roldan. In the first half, he played mainly as a right midfielder and he struggled to get into the game. He didn’t see much of the ball, and when he did, he didn’t get to do much with it.
Late in the first half, Weston McKennie had to be subbed out due to an injury. That saw Julian Green come in, allowing Acosta to move a little more centrally. From there, he was able to get on the ball more. Aside from a sloppy touch 18 yards from his own goal (which he was able to recover from), Acosta made smart passes. While he wasn’t able to make anything special happen, he certainly didn’t look out of place on the field.
From a free kick perspective, he wasn’t his best on Tuesday. He hit a few good corners, but the others seemed to miss their spots. On the one free kick that posed a shooting opportunity, he hit the ball directly into the wall.
Knowing what Acosta’s role with the USMNT is going to be going forward is a little tricky. Within the next couple of months, the team is likely to get a new coach and some of the veterans are probably start returning.
Kellyn Acosta is primarily a number 8. As far as the younger generation goes, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are probably both going to be ahead of him on the depth chart unless Acosta goes on a great run of form or either of them starts to struggle. McKennie did suffer a knee injury in the Mexico game, so that is something to watch. Marky Delgado could also pose a threat, but Acosta getting the start against Mexico seems to show that he is above Delgado for now.
As far as veterans go, the only players that can play a number 8 that could be factors are Darlington Nagbe and Danny Williams. Both are suffering from pretty long-term injuries at the moment and would probably take some time to get back to form.
The other option for Acosta is to play as a number 6. Right now, that position is being held by Wil Trapp. Personally, I feel like Acosta is a better player than Trapp, but it could come down to coach preference there. The big name veteran number 6 is Michael Bradley. He’s bound to be back in USMNT camp, but he hasn’t exactly been in good form for Toronto (or the USMNT for a while). In the long run, he shouldn’t be a main player for the USA, and Acosta has youth on his side.
All in all, I think Acosta has a chance to stay on the roster as a backup 8 to McKennie and Adams, and potentially a 6. It also helps that he’s got a knack for free kicks, and with Dempsey retiring and Bradley fading from the scene, the USMNT could use a guy like that.
My ideal midfield going forward for the USMNT would ultimately be McKennie at the 6 (he can be a 6 or an 8) with Adams and Acosta as dual 8’s.
How do you think Acosta played? Throw it in the comments section!