FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta (left) has scored three goals in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. (Photo: Mexsport)
PACHUCA, Mexico -- FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta burst onto the international scene in 2011, when he helped the United States capture the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship title.
In that competition, he was the youngest player on the roster, appearing in three games as a defender.
Fast forward six years, the now 21-year-old Acosta is a starting midfielder for FC Dallas, which will take a 2-1 lead into Tuesday’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, second leg against host Pachuca.
You could say that he has grown up in CONCACAF, especially since he has also earned a place in the USA’s senior squad.
“It has been pretty crazy,” Acosta told CONCACAF.com about his journeys in CONCACAF. “I’ve been to Jamaica twice with the U17s and U20s. I feel like I’ve come a long way. Whoever thought I’d be this far?
“Yes, it has been quite a journey. I know what to expect. CONCACAF games are very challenging, very tough. Nevertheless, I’m excited to showcase my talents internationally.”
Acosta has played a major role in FCD’s SCCL success. In six matches, he has scored a team-high three goals – two in a 4-0 win over Arabe Unido in the quarterfinals and one against Pachuca.
After coming on as second-half substitute in the Americans’ 1-1 draw at Panama in a World Cup qualifier on March 28, Acosta flew straight to Puebla, Mexico, where FC Dallas was holding a training camp.
He is handling all the responsibilities in stride.
“I’m just very grateful being with the national team,” responded Acosta, when asked about his life as a professional footballer. “Traveling, that’s the beauty of the game. We get to travel all over the world. I was just in Panama and now I’m here in Mexico, so it has been pretty crazy.
“I’m just trying to recover well, focusing on eating well, resting well and getting the type of treatment that I need to be ready for each and every practice and game. I’m mindful of the little things and details along the way. I want to go out there tomorrow energized and ready to give 100%.”
The big games just keep coming for Acosta, who has competed in 84 MLS regular-season matches in just slightly more than four seasons with FC Dallas.
Playing Pachuca, a four-time CONCACAF champion, at the Estadio Hidalgo – with a place in the Champions League final at stake – is a different matter altogether.
Regardless of the stakes, however, Acosta believes that FC Dallas is ready for the challenge.
“The team is very excited to get to this point,” he finished. “We’ve worked really hard. Hopefully, we can prove ourselves tomorrow and we get the win that we need.
“We’ve been preparing since last year for this point and we’ve been here for a week just getting acclimated to the weather, the climate, the altitude. We’ve turned all our focus on this game. Hopefully, we’ll be rewarded with the result that we wanted and need to make it to the final.”