HARRISON, N.J. — FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said he has no problem with Kellyn Acosta, not with the way the midfielder played or with his angry reaction to being substituted out of Dallas’ 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the 32nd minute.
“No, I understand. I understand the players,” Pareja said. “We’re all frustrated. But I back the players up, especially in a situation like this.”
When the Red Bulls were reduced to 10 men after Daniel Royer was shown a red card in the 27th minute for stomping Jacori Hayes’ ankle, Pareja opted for a tactical change. He wanted to bring on an additional forward and sacrifice a midfielder.
That midfielder was Acosta, who left after a little more than 30 minutes played. The US international walked off the field and went straight through the tunnel instead of going to the substitute’s bench.
“It’s normal,” Pareja said of Acosta’s reaction. “Kellyn gives his heart for this team and has grown here. I know the pain he has and the frustration of not being able to help in the moment, but Kellyn is fine.”
The initial chatter, at least on social media, was that perhaps Acosta picked up another injury. After all, he was sidelined for several months early in the season after having sports hernia surgery.
“Kellyn has been getting back into his rhythms and we are trying to add minutes and give him a chance just to recover and be himself,” Pareja said. “Slowly Kellyn will do it, but today it was more a tactical decision just to add another forward instead of having the three midfielders we planned with.”
Despite having an extra man for much of the match, FC Dallas failed to match the Red Bulls' intensity, which Pareja said was the prime reason for the lopsided scoreline.
“I would say it was noticeable in the game.” Pareja said. “They had a lot of energy and for some reason we couldn’t match that. We had many parts of the game where we could have done a better job in that part, but we couldn’t. It was a night to forget.”