The 29-year-old Argentine could become a U.S. citizen as early as the end of the year. Where would Luciano Acosta fit in Gregg Berhalter’s squad?
The United States men’s national team has a long tradition of being the home of many dual nationals. Some of the best players in the country’s history have come from foreign soil and have found a home in the U.S.
To name a few, Tab Ramos (Uruguay), Earnie Stewart (Netherlands), Yunus Musah (England), Hugo Perez (El Salvador), and Thomas Dooley (Germany) have all represented the United States despite being born in foreign countries, and their contributions have been valuable for the national team program.
If there is one thing USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter can hold his head high over, it is his recruitment of dual nationals to the program. Haji Wright, Folarin Balogun, Malik Tillman, Antonee Robinson, Sergiño Dest, and Gabriel Slonina have all chosen to represent the USMNT in the last four years.
Now the U.S. program has its eyes on Luciano Acosta, the FC Cincinnati attacking midfielder who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and comes from the famed Boca Juniors academy. Acosta made his way up to the senior side in 2014 and was a sporadic starter, managing two goals in 25 games.
Before his move to MLS and DC United, he spent a season on loan to Estudiantes where he scored one goal in 27 games. It was at DC United where Acosta earned his stripes, often the lone highlight of a few poor Ben Olsen teams.
Acosta’s Rise in DC
— D.C. United (@dcunited) January 1, 2019
While DC United struggled more often than not, Acosta excelled in MLS play, and eventually formed one of the best partnerships in the league with former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. When the English striker joined the club in 2018, Acosta had his best season, scoring 10 goals in 34 games, and the fans eventually dubbed Rooney and Acosta, “LuchoRoo.”
Acosta’s play would eventually and surprisingly put him under the microscope of PSG. He was seen as an option following an injury for Neymar, and PSG sent DC United a $10 million offer. Since the transfer window was closing, it was a rush against time. Acosta was set for his medical, but when DC United wanted more money the deal was canceled.
It was reported that Acosta, when told he had to leave for his medical at PSG, was in a near daze. He was about to transfer to one of the highest spending teams in the world.
When the 2019 season started, Acosta was not himself, clearly unhappy that his deal with PSG fell apart. By the end of the season with his contract up, he left DC United and went to Liga MX side Atlas.
Cementing Himself at FC Cincinnati
After returning to MLS after two seasons in Mexico, Acosta returned determined to make his second stint in MLS a long term one. At FC Cincinnati, Acosta has shown a growing maturity and is the team captain.
As of the all-star break, Acosta has eight assists and 12 goals in 22 matches, his best output ever in the league. He is a candidate for the MLS regular season MVP award and can still win a treble as the team is the Supporters’ Shield leaders, a candidate for MLS Cup, and in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
His years in MLS have been key in offering the opportunity to play for the USMNT. He already holds a green card and is in the application process to become a U.S. citizen.
Where Does Acosta fit on the USMNT?
A skillful player who plays down the middle of the field, Acosta could be an option should Gio Reyna be injured. Both play a similar role in the midfield, and although Reyna could play winger, Acosta can option as a withdrawn forward and depending on formation, could be a substitute for Christian Pulisic in some capacity.
Acosta would be a welcomed breath of fresh air as an additional attacking option, a pure creator who has a knack for goal. Acosta has 53 goals in 209 MLS matches.
Acosta has admitted to speaking with Berhalter, and if the chance should arise for him to get a call-up, the American manager has a new option that can help his cause.
Acosta in the end would be a good problem to have, as the U.S. can have a natural playmaker sub in for Reyna or Pulisic when called upon.
Luciano Acosta is the symbol of the American dream. A chance to come to a new country and assimilate. If he does don the USMNT jersey, it would have been well earned and gives the program a bit of Argentine viveza that Acosta has brought to MLS fields.