A midfielder by trade, Kellyn Acosta started at left back for the Colorado Rapids in their opening match of the MLS season with incumbent starter Sam Vines sidelined due to injury.
The Rapids tied FC Dallas, 0-0, and the naturally right-footed Acosta was a bright spot in the match despite being asked to play a new position just days before the match.
“I don’t think I need to distinguish whether we’re talking attacking or defending, I thought Kellyn did an excellent job tonight,” head coach Robin Fraser told reporters after the match.
Acosta comes into 2021 after a standout 2020 season in the midfield and earned a recall to the United States National Team after going two years between call ups.
Though left back is not his natural position, Acosta started there in the Rapids first-round playoff loss to Minnesota United last year and earned four starts at left back for the US Men’s National team under Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016.
“It says a lot about Kellyn as a player, I’ve seen him pull it off before and I expect nothing less from him,” said defender Keegan Rosenberry.
Defensively Acosta had a few moments early on where he was out of position, but he settled in quickly, making four successful tackles in the match and playing a pivotal role in preserving the clean sheet.
Known for his distribution skills in the midfield, Acosta completed 41 passes and pinched in when needed to aide in possession. He was also active getting forward to add width in the attack and provided strong combination play on the left wing with Andre Shinyashiki.
“He defended really well, and his willingness to get forward, and create situations with Andre I thought it was it was really good” said Fraser.
It remains unclear how long Vines will be sidelined, buy Acosta’s excellent display in the season opener should give Fraser full confidence that he can handle the role if Vines is forced to miss an extended amount of time.