FRISCO, Texas – Even as FC Dallas faded down the stretch, Homegrown right back Kellyn Acosta proved one of the major bright spots for the club in a disappointing 2013 season.
After not appearing for his hometown team for over a year since signing a pro contract in July 2012, Acosta appeared in all 13 remaining games of the season, starting 11 and compiling 1,004 minutes played, a club record for a Homegrown signing. That, in turn, led to an unexpected change of offseason plans.
The 18-year-old and his agent originally expected to explore loan options following the season's end to keep him sharp in preparation for 2014, but the unexpected playing time in the second half of the season took its toll on the rookie’s body. So instead of a loan, he now plans to give his body plenty of time to rest between stints with the US U-20 national team.
In November, Acosta and his U-20 teammates trained for a week in Italy and played friendlies against the U-21 teams of Serie A’s Hellas Verona and Atalanta. And in a time of uncertainty at the club level with Dallas still searching for a new head coach, Acosta is thankful for the chance to continue training with the U-20s.
“I always love coming to the national team and playing. I just like practicing, so I guess the more practice I get, the better I’ll be,” Acosta recently told MLSsoccer.com. “I enjoy working with [US U-20 head coach] Tab [Ramos]. He’s a great coach and he pushes us really hard to be the best that we can be and I always look forward to getting called into camps.”
Acosta played as a left back for Ramos’ squad during trip, but was typically deployed at right back by former FCD coach Schellas Hyndman. The 18-year-old notched an assist in the match against Hellas Verona, but admits his game doesn’t flow as naturally on the left flank as it does on the right. Long-term, however, he still sees himself as a holding midfielder.
“I’m glad I started off as a right back, I feel more comfortable there,” explained Acosta. “I feel like if I develop as a right back right now, then eventually I’ll be a d-mid. I’m glad coach [Hyndman] gave me a chance to play there and gave me a lot of time. Hopefully as [next] season goes on, I can get more time at d-mid.”
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Veteran Frenchman Peter Luccin played the role of mentor to Acosta and many of the younger players on the squad last season while he was recovering from his ACL injury. But this year, Acosta looks forward to learning from the defensive midfielder and La Liga veteran on the pitch.
“Peter is a great player, very encouraging and he’s always in great spots,” said Acosta. “Even as an outside back, I felt like I could always find him, he was always open. I feel like in the middle, it could be the same way … hopefully we can work together in the midfield.”