By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Jun 25, 2018) US Soccer Players – Kellyn Acosta is a fighter. The FC Dallas and USMNT player doesn’t let anything stop him from playing at the highest level. After recently undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia, Acosta was back in the Dallas lineup in May. As usual, he was there to link the defense to the offense, a player who has been the team’s midfield engine since becoming a regular on the first team in 2013.
One of the better players to come through the highly praised FC Dallas youth system, Acosta recorded three full seasons as a pro before even turning 21. A longtime US youth international, he was the youngest member of the US team at the 2013 U-20 World Cup. Signed to FC Dallas as a Homegrown Player, Acosta possesses key qualities. He’s two-footed and can play either as a fullback or as a defensive midfielder.
Acosta has been a bright spot for the USMNT as well over the past few years. He was first called into the 2016 January camp under then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann, earning his first senior cap in a friendly against Iceland that year. Acosta was also on the US team that captured the 2017 Gold Cup. He has amassed 17 caps and one goal, against Ghana in a 2-0 win in July 2017. Expectations are high that he'll help the USMNT rebuild on the road to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
After Dallas flopped at the end of last season, they entered 2018 determined to make the playoffs and compete for MLS Cup. The team has done well this season, second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race. Dallas will hope that the loss at the Red Bulls in week 17 was a blip for a team that is a contender.
We caught up with Acosta, where the Dallas star talked about the World Cup, both present and future, how the MLS season is going, and what his team needs to do to go on a championship run.
Have you been watching the World Cup and what are your thoughts so far?
It’s been cool watching some World Cup games. I don’t always get up for the 7am (central) games, but try to hit the 10 and 1s as best as I can. Our training schedule is a little bit different at this time because everyone wants to watch the World Cup, so it’s been exciting.
Which team are you cheering for?
I don’t have a particular team that I’m cheering for. I just like to watch a good game. It’s been exciting with some exciting games and results. Iran has played some good games, Egypt, I know they got knocked out. I was rooting for them and Mo Salah and how his year has been going. Mexico did well against Germany, so it’s been a great first round of games I would say.
With the World Cup on right now, does it make you excited that North America will host the tournament in 2026?
For sure. I just want to compete in a World Cup. That’s awesome.
How important is it for you to represent the United States?
It’s very important to me. It’s the chance to represent your country at the highest level and it’s something that everyone dreams of. Being in a World Cup is something I have always wanted to be a part of and having it here in 2026 will be an amazing feeling. We also have Qatar (2022) in between, so that’s important.
Let’s switch to MLS. How do you maintain this momentum you’ve built up so far going into summer?
We have to take it game by game. Right now, this part of the season has gone particularly well for us and we hope to continue on that foot. Talking it game by game and each game is very valuable on your way to the final. We’ve done well on the road against Toronto and LA (Galaxy), must stay on that foot because those points are definitely valuable.
Which teams are most likely to compete for MLS Cup this season and why?
You just have to see who’s in the Supporters’ Shield race. Columbus is doing well, Red Bulls, LAFC, Kansas City – there are numerous teams but you can’t count anyone out right now. You have to get halfway through the season, and at the end of the year and once the playoffs come, it’s a different road for every team. Then we’ll see how it goes.
What so you see in these teams that make them MLS Cup contenders?
It’s just the quality that they bring, some reinforcement they brought in throughout the offseason and acquisitions: Kansas City, in general, picked up a few guys that made the difference…. The New York Red Bulls have been clicking as a team and added a couple of new guys. It’s consistency. I mean, obviously, everyone has good games and bad games – but it’s how often they can play the good games that makes the difference at this level.
You’re now back from injury. Can you now have a strong rest of the season?
Yes, that’s the overall goal. It’s keep going forward, keep progressing and getting better as the year gets on.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2014. Find him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Soccer History: Maccabi Los Angeles
- The USMNT works toward the 2019 Gold Cup
- Soccer History: The 1993 US Cup
- Soccer History: New York Greek Americans
Photo by John Dorton - ISIPhotos.com