Having waited his turn, U-20 veteran Kellyn Acosta ready to lead United States at CONCACAF Championships

FRISCO - As a 17-year-old in 2013, Kellyn Acosta made the United States U-20 FIFA World Cup roster, but did not play a minute in the tournament. Now his time has come as the United States looks to qualify for the 2015 edition.

On Monday, Acosta was named the captain of Tab Ramos’ U-20 United States World Cup team that will begin the CONCACAF U-20 Championships on Friday in Kingston, Jamaica against Guatemala.

“I’m really excited to go in and compete at the tournament,” said Acosta via phone on Monday morning. “I think I have a lot of experience coming from the last [U-20] World Cup that helped me lead the team and hopefully we can get the results that we need.”

With a U-17 World Cup, U-20 World Cup and more first team professional appearances than anyone else on the roster, Acosta is a natural fit for the captaincy and it’s a job he takes very seriously.

“I do [enjoy it],” said Acosta about wearing the captain’s armband. “It’s a big role, but I’m excited to play the part.”

“I lead by example because I know as the captain people are going to follow you and follow in your footsteps, so by my actions I want to always be presentable, be on time, stuff like that and then on the field be a vocal leader always encouraging and lifting up players, little things like that any way I can help, that’s what I want to do.”

Acosta and the U-20s have been in Florida for the past week in the final tune up before the tournament in Jamaica. To qualify for the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand - the US will play six games in a 26-day span - they’ve been preparing with a grueling two-a-day schedule in the hot Florida sun that should do a great job of replicating what they’ll see down in the Caribbean.

The United States open the tournament with Guatemala on Friday and all of their games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 2.

“It’s definitely a big challenge and the games are going to be tough, but taking care of our bodies is the main thing, eating healthy and recovery time,” said Acosta. “If we look after ourselves, I know we have great trainers that will help us along the way, but we need to be proactive in a personal sense taking care of each other.”

By the time Acosta returns to FC Dallas after the tournament, the players will have reported for pre-season, meaning the 19-year-old will have a leg up on the competition in terms of fitness and match sharpness.

“I’ve been going for the past couple months and I’m a step ahead just trying to push myself and hopefully going into the season I can earn more minutes,” said Acosta. “I know I’ll probably be more fit than most guys and I know Oscar likes to see that. I’m going to keep working and pushing and we’ll see how it goes.”