Despite Kellyn Acosta’s unexpected release from the 23-man traveling team and remainder of the January camp, opportunity exists for his return to the senior team. Last week, Head Coach Berhalter spoke to ESPN soccer columnist Jeff Carlisle about Acosta and his decision to discharge him along with Real Salt Lake’s Justen Glad, LAFC’s Tyler Miller, and Toronto FC’s Alex Bono.
“We had Acosta playing in a position that he has competition in. We felt at the time that the other guys in this position were better suited to play the role then he was,” Berhalter explained. “Having said that, and I spoke very clearly to Kellyn, that doesn’t mean that his fate is sealed with the national team. What I explain to him is that this is one slice in time. Here are the things that he can improve on, and he gets fit, as he gets in better shape, we’re confident he’ll be able to execute on that, and we’re going to continue to monitor that. I told him to stay in contact with the group. If he can help in any way, we’re willing to help with the physical standpoint or the tactical standpoint, working with him when he’s outside. We were very clear in speaking with him when he exited the camp.”
The 23-year-old Acosta made the most of his recent play with the Yanks, often demonstrating flashes of he belongs on the senior team. Many believed he was a genuine catalyst on the pitch and offered the evolving men’s program considerable talent.
With interim U.S. Head Coach Dave Sarachan last year, he started against Mexico and had three shots total with one on goal before being subbed off in the 84th minute.
During his appearance against Colombia in Tampa Bay, he made the crowd of 38,000 plus roar with his game-tying goal, his second for the national team.
He went onto play again against England and Belgium in December. Prior to the match with the Three Lions in Wembley Stadium, Dave Sarachan took time to talk with the Burgundy Wave before a training session about the box-to-box 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 added: “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.”
This past January, Acosta received an invitation to rejoin the USMNT at their annual month-long camp in Southern California. This time, the team was led by newly hired head coach, Gregg Berhalter. On the 22nd, Acosta learned of his unforeseen fate, and set off for Florida to rejoin the Colorado Rapids for preseason training.
For Acosta and all his gifts, upside and drive, this is a temporary setback. Expect to see him again in red, white, and blue very soon.