BRONX, N.Y. — It was another sign of progress, and when you’ve been away from the team since the end of preseason, just making the 18-man game day roster is an improvement.
It also shows how close Kellyn Acosta is to stepping back onto the field for FC Dallas. The 22-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since late February after undergoing sports hernia surgery, but traveled and dressed for Sunday's 3-1 loss against NYCFC.
Acosta said he’s been dealing with groin strains the past few years, but said it was time to finally get the procedure done to avoid further damage.
That decision didn’t come without ramifications. It meant missing the first two months of the season, including important Concacaf Champions League fixtures and the first six matches of the regular season. It also meant Acosta wasn’t available for selection for the US national team’s friendly against Paraguay in late March.
“It’s been tough, but that’s just how the game goes sometimes,” Acosta said. “There’s bright points, but obviously there’s also a little bit darker. Mentally, it made me a little stronger, physically I’m getting back to it and I’ll be stronger than ever. That’s my main goal.”
And that, Acosta said, is all he can control. Sure, he’d like to get back into the USMNT team fold, maybe even as early as the match against Bolivia on Memorial Day and the friendlies in Ireland and France that follow.
But it is one step at a time, just as it was from the trainer's room to the training ground and from the substitute’s bench to what he hopes soon will be his first appearance for FC Dallas since Oct. 22, 2017. In his absence, 22-year-old Jacori Hayes has thrived in Acosta's usual box-to-box midfield role under Oscar Pareja.
“My main goal is focusing on being here and if I do well here I’ll have an opportunity to be with the national team,” Acosta said. “It’s great seeing the likes of those guys coming up and doing well for their clubs and doing well on the national team. It’s been exciting. Now I just have to see where or how I can fit in. My main focus now is to do well here and build off from there.”
“Each and every game I want to be a part of,” Acosta added. “Obviously that’s coming up soon at the end of May and early June in Ireland and France — three big games coming up. For me, I want to put my name on that list to be competing in those games. I have to do well here first before I can jump straight to the team.”