In a stunning transaction to United States soccer fans, midfielder Kellyn Acosta was dealt from the Rapids to LAFC for a lump of allocation dollars on Friday. But the blockbuster makes complete sense for Colorado, when looking at the factors that played into the trade.
The Friday morning move sent U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder to Southern California for million in General Allocation Money, potentially rising to as much as $1.5 million if specific incentives are met, along with a percentage of any revenue made off a future sale of Acosta. MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert first reported the deal.
A source indicated to the Burgundy Wave that Acosta and the club could not agree to extend Acosta’s contract, which was set to expire at the end of 2022, with a club option for 2023. According to Taylor Twellman, this only increased the interest in a move for Acosta across MLS, with reigning Supporters Shield Champions New England also expressing interest. Yet LAFC’s offer was the most lucrative, and Acosta was shipped to the City of Angels, remaining in MLS, instead of moving to Europe.
Acosta has always been clear with his ambitions to play in Europe. In January 2019, the Rapids turned down a lucrative offer for the midfielder, but FC Dallas still maintained 50% of sell-on costs. The Rapids are yet to have received serious European interest since, except for a last-minute loan offer for Acosta before the LAFC trade was finalized, meaning Acosta had once again missed his chance to move to Europe.
Acosta vented his frustrations on Twitter, claiming the Rapids “pushed him out,” and had an “offer on the table from abroad.”
This narrative is sad. CO pushed me out. They had an offer for me on the table from abroad and ongoing interests and opted to trade me…— Kellyn Acosta (@KellynAcosta) January 14, 2022
No one forced Acosta to move except himself, in my opinion, at least. By not extending his contract in Colorado, he could’ve left for free when it expired. And, between consistent public wishes to play in Europe and not coming to terms on an extension, Acosta didn’t appear the most dedicated to representing Colorado past 2022.
His value both internationally and in MLS will continue to decrease as he ages, and as his contract got closer to expiring, the Rapids pulled the trigger on a move now, and will reap the rewards with further investment in the squad (more on that later.) Also, after an extremely successful year with the USMNT, making several camps, and performing well in the Nations League and World Cup Qualifiers, Acosta’s value would’ve been quite high.
The “offer on the table from abroad” Acosta mentions was a one-year loan, which would see Acosta burn out an additional year on his contract while not representing the Rapids, with the club likely making very little (if any) profit off of it. The Rapids said this loan deal would’ve been a free loan.
Of course, you can understand Acosta’s frustrations for not getting his move overseas, but for the club itself, it was either lose him for an extremely discounted price, or even for free later, or move him now. The club chose to move him now, a position Acosta put himself into by not extending his contract.
The case isn’t the same for Cole Bassett, who is nearing a move to Dutch giants Feyenoord on a year-and-a-half-long loan, with an option to buy. News first broke in the Netherlands but has been verified by numerous American sources, including the Associated Press. This deal seems imminent.
Adding yet more smoke to this rumor, Bassett left USMNT training camp Saturday for undisclosed reasons.
Similar to Acosta, a loan for Bassett doesn’t provide much value for the Rapids, even if a loan fee is collected (which I’d have to assume will happen).
Yet, different from Acosta, Bassett is still very much developing, and is yet to meet his potential. If Bassett’s loan move to Rotterdam is successful, upon his return to the Rapids, his value would skyrocket, and the club could make even more money off a potential sale, or Feyenoord will activate his purchase option. Either way, the club will make a good deal of money off Bassett if the loan move goes well.
No matter the assets the club acquires for Acosta (and likely Bassett soon), the two represent big holes to fill in the midfield, especially after already moving on from another midfielder, Younes Namli, in December.
But this is not the time to panic. In fact, these moves should encourage excitement for 2022 and beyond. Because, even with the departures of Younes Namli, Acosta, and soon Bassett, the Rapids midfield is still strong, and the club has plenty of options, both internally and externally, to replace them.
The club has essentially already replaced Bassett, signing young Brazilian midfielder Max on Jan. 6, and already has Jack Price plus Mark Anthony Kaye on the roster, two acclaimed and successful MLS midfielders. If those three are the starting midfielders for the Rapids next season, I’d argue (depending on how well Max adjusts to MLS), that’s just as good as last year’s group.
And then there’s the young wildcards of Philip Mayaka and Oliver Larraz, who both performed well in USL last year, along with recent Superdraft pick Mohamed Omar.
Mayaka, 21, and Larraz, 20, will both almost certainly get more chances with the Rapids next season, even if the club decide to add another body in midfield, as the Rapids will have their depth tested by participating in numerous competitions, the CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup, and of course MLS play.
The Rapids have a plethora of space to make moves, both financially and in actual roster space. All three Designated Player slots are open, and moving Acosta’s team-high $1.1 million salary frees up even more space with Allocation Money.
The club has already teased new additions, as a source has indicated to the Burgundy Wave the Rapids are looking to add a striker and has a shortlist of a few targets, both in and out of MLS.
Losing players after such a successful season for the Rapids seemed almost inevitable, but the Rapids have kept most of the roster together, while adding tremendous roster flexibility, along with new talents like Max and Aboubacar Keita. The next weeks are set to be busy for the Rapids, as they continue to build up to their season opener in the Champions League on Feb. 17.