How Kellyn Acosta Will Change Chicago’s Fortunes

Coveted midfielder, Kellyn Acosta, has found his new home in the form of the Chicago Fire FC in MLS. After a successful run with LAFC, earning back-to-back MLS Cup appearances and a CONCACAF Championship, Acosta entered the free agent pool as one of MLS’ most sought-after assets. Acosta has also been a driving force behind the USMNT since 2016.

With a few key signings, Acosta will look to anchor a group that finished 13th out of 15th in the MLS Eastern Conference last season.

What Acosta Brings to the Table

With 46 starts out of 56 matches over the last two MLS seasons, Acosta brings solid experience with nearly 4,000 minutes played with LAFC since 2022. Acosta brings a solid passing game, completing 81.2% of all passes last season along with 91% of short passes, which would have put him first among all Chicago Fire players last season.

Along with successful passing numbers, Acosta has translated that into great field control. As the club’s sporting director Georg Heitz stated about Acosta, “We wanted to add a well-rounded central midfielder with strong leadership qualities and a track record of success.”

The biggest intangible Acosta brings to the table is the ability to succeed. In addition to winning a MLS Cup 2022 championship, he has also been apart of two Supporters’ Shield teams with FC Dallas in 2016 and LAFC in 2022. On the international level, Acosta has a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and captained an international friendly against Columbia in January 2023.

Acosta brings the ability to be a strong 6 or 8 on the field. In the 6 spot, Acosta displays the high work rate needed as well as being a very strong tackler. He scored in the 83rd-percentile among midfielders last season with tackles in the attacking third.

With the ability to work the offensive end just as solidly, Acosta can perform just as well in the 8 spot. His great leadership and creative playmaking set up attackers in the attacking third of the field. He can also provided that needed defensive edge you need in the 8 role as well, preventing breakaway opportunities.

How Acosta Fits Into the Chicago Fire Lineup

Acosta was not the only big splash of the off-season for the Chicago Fire. Belgian striker Hugo Cuypers joined the club just days before Acosta. Cuypers is coming off of a 2022-2023 season where he won the Jean-Claude Bouvy Trophy, given to the most valuable player of the Belgian club Gent.

One of the major reasons Acosta joined the Fire instead of a return venture to the Colorado Rapids was indeed the signing of Cuypers. Acosta can also offer a high level of free-kick ability, which can set up attackers for more scoring opportunities this season.

As Heitz stated in his statement on the signing of Acosta, it looks like the Fire has found their center midfielder. In this 8 spot, Acosta can create plays for both the newcoming Cuypers and Swiss scoring leaders from last season, Xherdan Shaqiri and Maren Haile-Selassie.

Though the question has been proposed on how can Acosta integrate with his new teammates in additions to the plethora of incoming new talent. With Acosta’s winning pedigree and the scoring ability of Cuypers, look for the Fire to adapt nicely and make a big push up the MLS ranks.

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