FRISCO, Texas – Rookie Kellyn Acosta is enjoying a breakout season for FC Dallas – and quickly staking a claim as the club’s most successful Homegrown signing to date.
Acosta has played 640 minutes on the season and only trails former forward Ruben Luna’s 663 minutes for the all-time club lead in minutes played by a Homegrown. But unlike Luna, who had only two starts for FCD over the course of the 2010-12 seasons and compiled the majority of his minutes as a substitute, Acosta is about to make his eighth consecutive start and has become coach Schellas Hyndman’s first option at right back.
“As long as he’s healthy and as long as he’s playing well, he can look at that position [as his to lose],” Hyndman told reporters on Wednesday. “As long as he’s playing well, I think we have a responsibility to keep him on the field.”
Acosta understands that he was originally moved into the starting 11 as a result of an injury to incumbent Zach Loyd. He says he’s grateful for the minutes he’s been getting and feels he’s adjusted well to the speed and physicality of MLS play, but he also knows that he’ll have to work hard in training and continue to perform in games to maintain his starting status over the veteran Loyd.
“It’s going to have us both working really hard,” Acosta told MLSsoccer.com. “Zach’s a really good player, so it’s really tough on me. I just try to do the best I can in practice and prove to coach that I belong.”
Acosta was unaware that he was approaching the team mark for Homegrown minutes and downplayed the significance of a record that equates to under a quarter of an MLS season. Instead, he’s focused on the ways he can continue to improve as a player.
“Physically-wise, to get bigger, stronger, faster,” explained Acosta. "Defensively, better at one-v-ones. Attacking, getting forward a little more. Technical ability and positioning-wise. Just a little bit of everything I could work on to get better."
The 18-year-old says he is eating six times a day and downing protein shakes and peanut butter at every opportunity in an effort to pack some muscle onto his 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame.
Hyndman says that his budding star has done very well and that he's very pleased with Acosta’s in-game decision-making and positioning. Now the 18-year-old needs to concentrate on improving his technique and delivery.
“What I would like to see is a little bit better production from him,” Hyndman explained. “Better services. A lot of times, Kellyn will cut in to his left foot and serve, and he’s got a good left foot, but the ball doesn’t ever seem to get past that first defender in the box.
"We’d like him to hit that same ball, but maybe three yards higher. That gets it past the defender and now our guys are getting in there at better angles.”