Last year it was the emergence of Victor Ulloa. This year it's about the rebirth of Kellyn Acosta as a CM. Acosta was already pegged as a future star for this club after taking the rightback spot by the horns after Zach Loyd sustained an injury in 2013. Injuries in 2014 limited Acosta's minutes and found himself shifting through the fullbacks and central midfield position to start 2015. But make no mistake now, Kellyn Acosta has cemented his place as a permanent starter on this club and last night's golazo and Iniesta-esque assist proves that point.
Last week we touched on how Acosta's disruptive play was the perfect blend to Ulloa's metronome rhythm, and this week Acosta upped his play and provided Dallas a bit of both to further compliment his midfield partner and give Mauro Diaz all the space he needs to do his magic.
Above you'll see Acosta's 34 successful passes. Everything very neat and tidy, mostly short and staying very close to the middle portion of the field. This is essential because if Acosta pushes too far forward, he drags a defender with him and starts crowding into Diaz's space. Where Acosta has begun to really shine is picking the moments to join the attack with late runs.
Acosta wasn't perfect on the night with his passing but every one of his misplaced passes were either a chip, a launch, a cross or a header. Meaning higher degree of difficulty passes that are about 50/50 in terms of completely.
We've talked about it before but all Acosta and Ulloa need to add to their growing skill set is just a little more on the offensive end. They don't necessarily have to score the goals, but they do need to something to start creating chances either for themselves but mainly for their teammates. Last night we saw more of that with this stupid golazo off his weaker foot:
While that goal was insane, I was more excited and impressed with the set up of the first goal of the evening. It took a lot of deft, soft touches, balance, vision and quick feet to pull off.
And here's a better angle of that pass.
And credit to Michael Barrios for finishing that off such a tight angle.
Hush, Harris Haters
With each successive game, Atiba Harris has grown and is starting to really grow accustomed to his fullback position. I do not understand the amount of venom people have for Harris, who is a converted striker/winger. Yeah, Harris has been caught out of position or wrong footed at the beginning of the season, but those days are long gone. Actually believe that if you're still hating on Harris, then you're just biased off his first 5-6 games at a brand new position.
His passing chart and heat map show that he had one of his best games for this second FC Dallas stint. He just had one missed pass (chipped) inside the attacking half, and even managed to get off three shots.
My favorite aspect of Harris' game is his ability to generate shots and be a threat on corners and set pieces. He missed his two headers off corners against the Timbers, but can you name another fullback in this league (or any league) that can get up like he can? This creates a serious mismatch defensively for the opposition and it's a nice little extra offensive punch that this club can use.
If you want to hate Harris, then by all means go for it. Just be sure to admit that you're scapegoating and you really have no leg to stand on for that argument anymore.