Kellyn Acosta - Colorado Rapids - closeup vs. LA Galaxy
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kellyn Acosta has changed the narrative around the Rapids

Since being acquired in a trade from FC DallasKellyn Acosta has immediately improved the Colorado Rapids on multiple fronts.

The team has picked up points at a higher rate than they had all season since Acosta arrived. Colorado had won 0.85 PPG in 20 their first games and have won 1.00 PPG in the seven games since his debut. Those seven points came in a three-game stretch, tying their best three-game output all season. The Rapids picked up back-to-back home wins over the Galaxy and Earthquakes before drawing the Galaxy in Los Angeles. While not a league-changing boost, it matters. 

More importantly, though, Acosta has changed the narrative on the Rapids.

Acosta has given the team a more positive identity – his influence on Colorado's tactics is undeniable. In their first 20 games of the season, the Rapids attempted the least amount of passes per 90 minutes in the league and were 19th in passes in their own half per 90 minutes. Since he put on the No. 10 shirt, the Rapids have attempted the second most amount of passes per 90 minutes in the league and the most passes in their own half per 90 minutes.

That is a tectonic identity shift.

It hasn't exclusively been Acosta, of course. The trade coincided with a tactical shift, as head coach Anthony Hudson switched from a back five to a 4-4-2 tight diamond in the midfield, helping control the game better. But the change wouldn't have happened the same way – if at all – without Acosta. 

More than anything else, he's helped restore hope to an ailing Rapids' side badly in need of it. They now have a franchise cornerstone to build around for next season. It's a player to be excited about. 

The arrangement has been more mutually beneficial. Hope has traveled in both directions as Acosta has played his way back into the US men's national team while in burgundy-and-blue. He played 35 minutes on Friday night in USA's 2-0 loss to Brazil then started and played 85 minutes in their 1-0 win over Mexico.

“It’s like a fresh start for me,” Acosta said at USMNT training last week. “I have another opportunity to prove myself. Just being uncomfortable has brought out positive things in me. I’m excited for the opportunity and it’s been great so far.”

Acosta being uncomfortable stems not only from life off the pitch, but on it as well. He's playing further up the field in Colorado than he did with Dallas and it has helped improve his end product. In six starts with the Rapids, Acosta has scored twice and added two assists. He had just a goal and two assists in 13 games with FCD this season.

On Saturday against Atlanta (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter - full TV & streaming info), Acosta and the Rapids will welcome the league's best attack. A few months ago, the Rapids would have sat as deep as they could, hoped to frustrate ATL and survive long enough to grab a late goal on a counter or set-piece. Now, with Acosta, they might try and play. What do they have to lose?

It's another chance for player and club to continue growing together, piecing together building blocks for next season. 

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