FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas welcomed back Kellyn Acosta to the starting lineup in Saturday's 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy, with the Homegrown midfielder continuing his comeback following surgery to repair a sports hernia.
The 22-year-old is the 'glue' of the midfield, coach Oscar Pareja's term of choice to describe Acosta's box-to-box role in the FC Dallas system, and has seen close friend Jacori Hayes fill the void alongside the more defensive options of Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa.
"I think Jacori has done tremendously well and he's adding that attacking side to his game,” Acosta said of his replacement. “Vic, as well, doing a tremendous job and Carlos, the destroyer. I think we're starting to figure each other out because there's different partnerships that Oscar has used. Sometimes there's three in the middle with three defensive midfielders, there was one with Mauro [Diaz] as a No. 10. We're trying to implement different things and the more we train, the more comfortable and consistent we'll be."
Acosta showed what FC Dallas have missed in his 63-minute appearance with a 95 percent passing rate, largely balls played forward into the attack, as well as a solid defensive performance. His next step is playing a full 90, which he remains confident of doing Saturday (4 pm ET | CTV, TSN - Full TV & streaming info) against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
"I think in the game, with the conditions and the heat, I couldn't quite make it a full 90," said Acosta. "I feel good, this week I'm progressing and feeling better each and every day."
While FC Dallas has showcased a stout defense en route to just one defeat on the year, Acosta can easily identify what the team needs in order to challenge Sporting Kansas City and LAFC atop the Western Conference standings.
"Consistency," said Acosta. "We can't be high then low, we need to be consistently there. I think it's imperative to do well at home. We had some draws that I wish we had back. We missed out on points, and those points in the end are going to matter. In the back we've been solid, we've let in the least amount of goals in the league. I think we've continued that step, and offensively we've got to start clicking and building."
With FC Dallas missing the playoffs in 2017 thanks to a 93rd minute Marco Urena goal on Decision Day that pushed the San Jose Earthquakes in on the most wins tiebreaker, Acosta recognizes that there is work to make up for Dallas' early inconsistencies.
"For us to be really challenging, everyone needs to step up at least five percent," said Acosta. "I think we'll be in good shape, we have the team and the quality to do so. I don't know if it's tired legs through the season, but inconsistency brings us down. Last year it came down to one game, and we look back to the beginning of the season where maybe we missed out some points that could have mattered in the end."