Defensively, Danny Acosta is doing his job when he’s unnoticed. When he’s in the form that earned him five starts for Tab Ramos’s USA squad at the Under-20 World Cup, the left side of the field becomes a no fly zone. At the fullback position, Acosta is a lockdown corner.
After globe-trekking to South Korea with teammates Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo, Acosta made his fifth start of the season as Real Salt Lake’s defense earned its shutout against Minnesota United FC. The RSL Homegrown went 79 minutes in the 1-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, and once Saucedo replaced him, all four of RSL’s U-20 youngsters saw the field.
“It doesn’t matter, I don’t care how old they are or lack of experience they have,” Mike Petke said postgame. “They have to come, them especially, and push it every day. Hopefully it’s the start of something great for all four of them. It was great to have all four of them out on the field but it really comes down to them, they have to continue to work hard.”
RSL stifled a Minnesota attack that put four past Nick Rimando in the last meeting between the two sides on April 1. The Loons managed only one shot on target and just five shots overall Saturday night.
“We were just really defensively organized,” Glad explained postgame. “There was a lot of communication back there and it made it easy when they were making diagonal runs and cutting across the backline. Everyone knew what was going on and we could shift with that player.”
The test came when Acosta pinched in to help Glad and Aaron Maund in the 51st minute. Minnesota flooded the box waiting for service and Miguel Ibarra made a run on the far post. The 19-year-old Acosta spotted the open man and denied him the opportunity by sending the ball out for a corner kick. Ibarra was frustrated once again.
Additionally, Acosta needed to stay vigilant with all of the activity going forward. With Lennon, Joao Plata, and Jefferson Savarino interchanging in front of him, the RSL Academy graduate provided the necessary cover defensively, while maintaining his responsibilities with the RSL center backs. As a result, Acosta was on the forefront of springing attacks down the left side. He was able to skip the lines to his wingers to get out in transition. When the rate of play slowed down, Acosta was there for the outlet.
If the fullback continues his defensive work rate, RSL’s inevitable march up the standings certainly won’t go unnoticed.