Kellyn Acosta must’ve thought he’d hit the jackpot last week.
After securing a move to the Colorado Rapids, subsequently scoring on debut in a 2-1 loss to Wayne Rooney’s DC United, head coach Anthony Hudson lauded Acosta in a trade swap which saw Dominique Badji move in the other directon.
Hudson, not known for dishing out easy praise, was quick to single out the 23-year-old US midfielder as “perfect” and an “intelligent, quick and powerful athlete”.
To the naked eye it looked like a seamless and simple solution for both club and player but look beneath the surface and this fresh beginning looked more like a daring dream.
Acosta grew up in the suburb of Plano, a furniture famous town just 20 miles north of downtown Dallas. A Japanese father made it difficult to fit in at times.
So football became a seamless way to integrate. And after impressing through the ranks at his high school football team, he joined up with FC Dallas‘ Development Academy at 14, making the short journey to and throw from his family home.
When at the academy Acosta became one of a selection pkayers to be streamlined between rosters with the club, transitioning from 9v9 and 11v11.
With the infrastructure at the academy just two years old when Acosta joined it was no surprise to see the midfielder reap the benefits of the facilities, joining a list of players including Christian Pulisic and DeAndre Yedlin as ones to watch for the future.
The pedigree of the academy allowed US scouts the opportuity to analyse and execute their findings, enabling a process where those most talented could be whisked off to the national IMG Academy soccer camp.
And so it was that in 2011, just four years after becoming an integral part of FC Dallas’, Acosta travelled to Bradenton, Florida, to partake in high intensity training sessions with other prodigies ranging from Chicago to California and South Carolina to Seattle.
In 2017 the IMG programme actually shut down due to the proliferation of those of the MLS sides so it was not surprising to see that upon from IMG Acsota spent two years more in FC Dallas’ youth system, in it making three MLS reserve league appearances and an award for the best US Soccer Development Academy Central Conference Player of 2011/12.
It was then the playmaker broke through to the first team, making nine consecutive starts at the beginning of what would turn out to be, at first, a memorable career at the club just down the road from his family home.
Potentially that’s why Acosta was so willing to play out of position as a full-back initially due to the fact that impressions counted and that if he proved working hard would equal success then dropping him would emerge a difficult decision to say the least.
In five years for FC Dallas Acosta made 117 appearances scoring nine goals, but in truth it could’ve been longer.
At the beginning of last season the midfielder had struggled for consistency, plagued by a hernia injury which required surgery just a few weeks before matchday one in the MLS.
Acosta spoke at the time of how recovering on the sidelines was tough mentally as well as physically, missing not just the first few domestic games but the CONCACAF Champions League and national team call-up.
It’s a sign of how far the Plano born football dreamer had come.
In 2011 Acosta was selected for the FIFA U-17 World Cup and subsequently became the youngest member of the 2013 U-20 World Cup.
Selectors could notice talent when they saw it and after two World Cup spells with the U20 team the playmaker was given his first full senior international cap against Iceland in 2016 before being part of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup winning side a year later.
It’s perhaps why Tim Howard, goalkeeper at the Colorado Rapids, thinks he has the potential to move to Europe and shine at a big club, a bit like Pulisic did at Borussia Dortmund.
No doubt before that though that Acosta will now want to estbalish himself at the Rapids before anything else about his future is discussed.
Moving from FC Dallas, a childhood club, was in itself a daring dream but it’s one that could provide the catalyst for Acosta’s career down the line.