MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Official: LAFC send Colorado up to $1.5 million GAM for USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta

Kellyn Acosta COL
  • LAFC receive: midfielder Kellyn Acosta
  • COL receive: Up to $1.5 million GAM

UPDATE: Jan. 14, 2:30 pm ET – LAFC have officially acquired US men’s national team midfielder Kellyn Acosta from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for $1.1 million in General Allocation Money ($550k GAM in 2022 and $550k GAM in 2023).

Colorado could receive up to an additional $400k in GAM if certain performance metrics are met and would receive a percentage of a future transfer fee if Acosta is moved outside of MLS or within the league.

“Kellyn is a player that has all the attributes necessary to play how we want in the midfield,” LAFC co-president and GM John Thorrington said in a release. “He provides versatility and ability to help our team immediately. He is in his prime, a fixture in our National Team, and offers the MLS experience we sought in the off-season.”

“Kellyn has been a valuable contributor on the pitch and a model representative of our club off it since his arrival in 2018,” Pádraig Smith, Colorado's EVP & GM, said in a release. “He was a key part of our team’s turnaround and we’re grateful to him for his contributions to the club. We wish him all the best in this next chapter of his career.” originally reported the news.

ORIGINAL: Jan. 14, 10:35 am ET – LAFC have reached an agreement to acquire US men’s national team midfielder Kellyn Acosta from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for up to $1.5 million in General Allocation Money (GAM), sources tell

The deal includes $1.1 million GAM up front with a further $400k in performance-based incentives. Colorado will retain a sell-on percentage in Acosta that kicks in above what LAFC invested to acquire him, should he be transferred abroad or traded within MLS.

The deal is among the most expensive intra-league trades in MLS history.

Colorado and the 26-year-old Acosta’s camp engaged in discussions over a contract extension for some time, with numerous offers on the table, though the two parties never reached an agreement. Acosta has ambitions to play in Europe as well. His current contract included club options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, meaning he could become a free agent in January 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new deal.

Acosta has made 79 regular-season appearances with the Rapids since arriving in a trade with FC Dallas in 2018, the club where he signed a homegrown contract. He already has 196 MLS appearances in his career. Acosta was part of the Rapids side that topped the Western Conference in 2021 and qualified for the Concacaf Champions League.

The midfielder also returned to the USMNT during his spell in Colorado after falling out of favor. Acosta has 45 caps with the national team, including 21 games in 2021, the same amount he played for Colorado last year. He was part of both the Nations League and Gold Cup-winning squads and has been a regular during Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

LAFC and Colorado were recently trade partners for another blockbuster deal involving an international-level midfielder, with the Rapids acquiring Mark-Anthony Kaye from LAFC last summer in exchange for $1 million in GAM plus incentives and an international roster slot. The Rapids also received a first-round pick at the 2022 SuperDraft, which became the No. 10 selection that they traded to Nashville SC for $125,000 in GAM plus $50,000 in incentives.

Acosta joins LAFC to help lead a new era, with Steve Cherundolo taking over as head coach following the departure of Bob Bradley to Toronto FC. He’ll slot into the first-choice starting XI, alongside other central options like Jose Cifuentes, Latif Blessing and Ilie Sanchez (recently signed as a free agent).

MLS Best XI and former LAFC stalwart midfielder Eduard Atuesta departed for Palmeiras this winter, while former core pieces like Kaye, Diego Rossi and Tristan Blackmon have also all exited since the summer.

Acosta is the Black & Gold’s biggest addition so far this winter, while Franco Escobar and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi have already arrived via trades this offseason as well. LAFC still intend to sign a Designated Player this winter after missing out on Uruguay international Jonathan Rodriguez, who left Liga MX’s Cruz Azul for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr this week.

Even in Acosta’s departure, Colorado still have Canada regular Kaye and Jack Price as holdover starters in central midfield, as well as Brazilian U22 Initiative signing Max Alves and last year’s No. 3 selection in the SuperDraft Philip Mayaka.

Rising USMNT talent Cole Bassett is still technically on the roster, but as has previously reported, he is likely to depart this winter amid a flurry of interested European clubs. He is closing in on a potential loan to Dutch club Feyenoord, as has been reported Friday. The Rapids also selected former FC Dallas DP midfielder Bryan Acosta in the Re-Entry Draft, though have not made an announcement on if they came to an agreement for a contract or not.

The largest allocation money for a player deal, by terms of guaranteed money up front, was when the Philadelphia Union acquired David Accam from Chicago Fire FC for $1.2 million in combined Allocation Money (xAM) in 2018. Dom Dwyer was traded to Orlando City SC from Sporting Kansas City in 2017 for $900,000 xAM up front plus $700,000 in incentives. That $1.6 million remains the biggest potential total package in MLS history, though there’s been no reporting on how much – if any – of the incentives hit.

Other seven-figure deals include when Justin Meram was sent from Columbus Crew to Orlando the same year for $1.05 million xAM. Darlington Nagbe was traded to Columbus from Atlanta United for $1.05 million xAM plus incentives and an international roster spot in 2020. Walker Zimmerman was acquired by Nashville SC from LAFC ahead of the 2020 season for $900,000 GAM + $350,000 GAM in incentives and an international roster spot.

In more recent times, CF Montréal acquired Djordje Mihailovic for up to $1 million in GAM in 2021, then Alistair Johnston for $1 million GAM this offseason. Fellow USMNT midfielder Sebastian Lletget was traded from the LA Galaxy to New England Revolution for $500,000 GAM up front with a further $800,000 in incentives this winter as well.