TAMPA, Fla. — With a pair of key central midfielders missing from the U.S. national team roster due to injury, Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta took another turn in the spotlight in Thursday night’s 4-2 loss to Colombia.
Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie were both called up for this month’s friendlies, but both were forced to withdraw. Tasked with keeping tabs on Colombian stars James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, among others, Acosta was always going to be in for a challenging night.
“It was a difficult game. It was a tough Colombian team with some special players,” Acosta said. “They really overloaded our left side and they were finding some pockets. If you give some of those guys time and space, they can really hurt you.”
“I saw the ball going out wide to Antonee and there was only one guy in the box, so I thought maybe I’d make a late run and the ball would come to me,” Acosta said. “I read the flick off one of the center backs and I thought if I could beat the outside backs to the ball, I had a good chance to put the ball on frame.”
U.S. head coach Dave Sarachan credited Acosta for making the most of his chance Thursday night, though he did note that it wasn’t a perfect performance.
“I think Kellyn, on balance, had a good night,” Sarachan said. “If I were to be a little critical, and I think he would agree, in the first half, there were some simple passes that I didn’t think he did great with. In the second half, I think he did a lot better with that. Kellyn has a great engine and I think he worked his way into the match and did pretty well.”
Analzying what went wrong after the USMNT took a lead in the second half only to concede three unanswered goals, Acosta felt the match became too stretched as legs got heavier.
“The back-and-forth game was kind of tough,” he noted. “At that point in the game, we had heavy legs and we were chasing the game. Spacing was a little bit off and once we lost the ball and they counterattacked. It didn’t suit us. The game got stretched and we had to do a lot more running than we had hoped.”