International Roundup: Kellyn Acosta, Jonathan Lewis & Sam Vines Earn Big Minutes for USMNT, U-23s -

It’s been a big week for U.S. Soccerand a big week for the Colorado Rapids as well.

On Thursday, Kellyn Acosta joined a star-studded USMNT roster that secured a dominant 4-1 win over Jamaica in the first of two March international friendlies for Team USA. Acosta not only started the match but played the full 90 minutes in the victory.

Acosta played his minutes in more of a defensive center mid role, the number 6 position, instead of his typical more attacking role, which usually has him in the number 8 slot. But Acosta more than held his own, winning many midfield battles and 50/50 opportunities.

“I thought he had an excellent game, I really did,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Winning a lot of duels, positioned well, he looked like he’s played there a lot before. Really good performance by him. It’s great to see him take that next step from being a guy that hasn’t been involved these last two years to now working his way into it and having a good performance like he did tonight.”

Playing out of position with the USMNT is a bit of the norm for Acosta. In 2016-18, when he was a regular call-up for the U.S., he often played left back.

Acosta’s performance against Jamaica was enough to earn him a nomination for Man of the Match. The Rapids midfielder was the only player who didn’t contribute a goal but still earned the recognition.

The impressive performance with close to a full-strength lineup is a big step for Acosta. He was one of only three MLS players to earn the USMNT call-up for these friendlies, which boasts players from European powerhouses like Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Meanwhile, for the U.S. U-23s, Sam Vines and Jonathan Lewis both earned two consecutive starts in the group stage of Concacaf Olympic qualification. The team went 2-1-0 in its first three matches, beating Costa Rica 1-0 and then the Dominican Republic 4-0. Team USA went on to drop the final match of the group stage to Mexico, 1-0, and subsequently took second place in Group A heading into the semifinals.

The next match is the biggest for the Olympic hopeful squad. They will play Honduras, the winner of Group B in the semifinal. Honduras went 1-0-2 in the group stage, tying Canada and El Salvador 1-1 and beating Haiti 3-0. The winner of the semifinal matchup will earn a trip to the final and a spot in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The U.S. has not qualified for the Olympics on the men’s side since 2008, so there is sure to be a lot on the line in the team’s next match.

Rapids fans can check out both the next USMNT match and the U-23 contest on Sunday, March 28. The USMNT will play Northern Ireland at 10:05 AM MT on Fox and the U-23s will play Honduras at 4 PM on FS1.