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Tough decision to trade Kellyn Acosta will benefit FC Dallas


Twelve months ago, Kellyn Acosta was gaining hype as one of the top young U.S. Men’s National Team midfielders.

On Monday, he was banished to the Colorado Rapids by FC Dallas in exchange for Dominique Badji. The Western Conference foes also swapped 2019 first-round picks and the Rapids acquired a second-round pick in 2019 as well.

Of course, Acosta is the big name in the deal because of his stature with the USMNT, but FC Dallas actually came out of the trade as the winner, no matter how hard the decision was to ship one of its best Homegrown players to Commerce City.

Victor Ulloa, Carlos Gruezo and Jacori Hayes played well enough while Acosta was recovering from injury, and in the time since he’s returned, to earn the confidence of head coach Oscar Pareja.

With three viable options in central midfield, it made no sense for Acosta to languish on the bench and drop further down the USMNT depth chart at a position that is loaded and might be the deepest on the American roster, but that’s another topic for when U.S. general manager Earnie Stewart names a head coach.

FC Dallas missed the golden opportunity to sell Acosta to a European side last season when his stock was at its highest.

At that point, the USMNT was still in contention to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and Acosta was a part of the squad that took home the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup.

As an intriguing 22-year-old prospect, Acosta’s sale last summer would’ve given FC Dallas its best possible return.

Fast forward to Monday, when the Western Conference received the best possible return for Acosta in a proven forward in Badji, who is one of the most remarkable MLS stories in recent history.

The Senegal native carved out a spot for himself as the only consistent scorer on the Rapids roster, and he became one of the few valuable pieces on the roster full of Championship retreads.

Badji’s found the back of the net on 16 occasions in the last two seasons, and he’s provided eight assists in that time.

With seven goals in 2018, Badji comes into the FC Dallas squad as the joint top scorer alongside Roland Lamah. Maxi Urruti is the only other FC Dallas player with more than three goals.

Adding Badji to an attacking group headlined by Urruti and Lamah, who have flown under the radar a bit as offensive weapons, helps as Pareja molds his front line after the departure of midfield unicorn Mauro Diaz to the United Arab Emirates.

Obviously Badji doesn’t fill the void at the No. 10, but it gives Pareja more comfort to play Lamah behind Urruti for the time being since he’ll have scoring threats in Badji and Michael Barrios flanking the Uruguayan.

Badji’s impact could be felt as early as Saturday, when FC Dallas collides with Sporting Kansas City in a top-of-the-table clash that could serve as a potential Western Conference final preview.

Meanwhile on the other half of the standings, we’re stuck throwing our hands up in the air in question of another Rapids move.

Bringing in Acosta isn’t the issue with the move. The Rapids traded away the one player who’s brought some type of life to the final third over the last two years, and now we have to further question where exactly the goals will be coming from for Anthony Hudson’s side.

To add more complications to the matter, the Rapids released Joe Mason recently, who is second on the team’s scoring chart with three goals.

That leaves Jack McBean, who with 101 more minutes on the field will eclipse his career high of 715 minutes in a single season, disappointing signing Yannick Boli, the forgotten Shkelzen Gashi, 2018 fourth-round pick Niki Jackson and recently acquired Giles Barnes as the forwards on the roster.

Barnes is expected to be the answer up top, but nothing he’s done since scoring 11 goals in 2014 with the Houston Dynamo convinces anyone he can be the target man the Rapids want him to be.

The English-born Jamaican international is coming off a disappointing spell with Club Leon in Liga MX, and there’s no guarantee he’ll create a plethora of scoring opportunities given the way the Rapids have lined up this season.

Acosta enters the crowded midfield as the best player at the position, and he has nothing to lose with the change of scenery.

The best-case scenario for the Rapids and Acosta is that he regains his form and either remains with the club for the future as it tries to figure out a direction, or he gets sold abroad and the Rapids collect a piece of the transfer fee.

As part of the trade, both teams retain 50 percent of any international transfer value through the 2020 secondary transfer window, which means FC Dallas would still profit a bit if Acosta was sold by the Rapids.

With that clause in effect, the Rapids end up with the shorter end of the stick because there’s a much larger chance of Acosta, who has 17 USMNT caps, being sold than Badji.

Sure, the Rapids could reap the rewards of Acosta’s performance and have a decent second half of the 2018 campaign, but FC Dallas is in a much better place to succeed.

With a reliable forward added to the lineup and the possibility of still profiting off an Acosta sale, FC Dallas comes away as the clear winner of Monday’s deal.


  1. Dallas on the other hand, what a dumb trade. He can’t cost that much, to be dumping salary.

    For all the people that are in the camp of MLS should move players to Europe, good to be a stepping stone or development league. Look at Dallas. All the great players that came through there.
    they have had great teams and did come close, but once again they look to be short. Once again if only they had all the players they lost.

  2. Colorado made a great signing, but for what?

    They need to put a team around him. I look at Colorado and think best player/superstar. Dallas had him on the bench.

  3. Over the last 8+ years the USMNT learned the brutal truth that we need more & better quality depth at every position. We need options beyond the the 1st & 2nd choice players. If moving to the Rapids gets Acosta back to playing 90 minutes week-in, week-out than he’ll likely still have a role to play going forward. Even if it’s as an injury replacement or 3rd string CDM. Acosta being in MLS will continue to get some minutes with the USMNT even if it’s only during “B” Squad camps (Camp Cup Cake, etc…).
    Our CDM’s right now are McKennie, Adams, & K. Acosta. We may get a few more games from Williams or Morales, but their time is running out quickly. Then there are players like Durkin & Jones trying to make the push into consideration.

    The one thing that will likely keep Acosta sniffing around the fringes of the “A” squad is his versatility. Being able to be slotted in as an emergency RB or LB as well as at CDM is one of the things that can come in handy for a coach during a tournament.

  4. This is good for Acosta in that he will get regular minutes. This makes no sense for the Rapids, however, unless they have some dynamite signings lined up to provide offense. Otherwise, as I wrote earlier, they can only hope for a lot of nil-nil draws.

  5. It’s basically 2 teams swapping disappointing players, Badji hasn’t had a double digit league goals season yet and Acosta can’t even start. A year or so ago the Europe talk would have been a propos but now you’re talking about someone who couldn’t get off a MLS bench. He needs a period playing well for the Rapids before that kind of talk even makes sense.

    • Far as the Nats are concerned his window was really last cycle, he’s mediocre, he fell off at the end, and the new generation coming up are better players. Until he starts again he will disappear completely. And after him, Nagbe, a list of the mids from last cycle, are going to be up against it to carve out a spot on the new team. I see them as the next generation of Dax McCarty, ok pedigree youth national team players that never quite secured their NT future. Pool players called when we get an idea to experiment. If they were that good we wouldn’t have missed the cut.

      • You’re rougher than I am. I have Acosta as a lot more than “mediocre” – at least when healthy, which he obviously hasn’t been – but there are some weaknesses with his game he admittedly does need to improve upon, especially since there are some guys with superior touch and passing skills looking to secure places within the USMNT.

        Hopefully this is the sort of thing that spurs that improvement. In the past guys would get called up and never really pressed…nowadays Acosta – who is at least as talented as Michael Bradley – got set back a bit and is facing a reality check.

        If it is true that competition creates the pressure for improvement, maybe this spurs him along some.

        Keep in mind also he’s seen time as a left back and he might factor there even if it doesn’t pan out for him at center mid. He is a VERY pacy lefty.

      • Quozzel, the thing is Acosta is right footed and was put at left back as a defender with a lack of other options.
        Also, Acosta is nowhere near Bradley at various talent levels. At 22 Bradley could step on any field and impose his talent in a match at both ends. Acosta does not have a position he is refined enough to even be a factor in MLS. Is he a central defensive midfielder, a center offensive midfielder, or right/left back?
        His intangibles are great motor and can run. Everything else he is too inconsistent to pencil in as a core player
        What is sad is this is the point were the US loses a potential impact player to being an also-ran. Hope he can turn things around in CO and get a ton of minutes at a position that suits him

      • To me what decides how good the national team is, is how many excellent Pulisic type players we have. We used to have a few at a time, Donovan, Beasley, Reyna, etc. Maybe it’s the mediocre performance in Brazil or him looking in over his head some games in the Hex, but I think people lose all objectivity on Bradley. I would agree with assessments that he was never a 10; that he looked tired in Brazil; and that he got swamped routinely in the hex. But Acosta is playing at the same time and not looking any better (ditto Nagbe). I mean, Acosta has 1 goal — count it, one — in the shirt. Ditto Nagbe. Bradley has a pile of stunners including the one at Azteca that few USMNT ever have been capable of. Bradley was a pretty good 6. Bradley in the last cycle was “the worst except for everyone else.” He was very good for several years and then the best of a bad bunch until recently. I mean the real issue is that as he fell off/was exposed by tactics/formation, no one new stepped up and shoved him aside. However much talent Nagbe or Acosta are supposed to have, they never became even that level of player. At a certain point they have to “turn out” or we move on to the next generation and they become the veteran pool option you call upon when less frustrating people get hurt.

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