Born on July 24, 1995, Kellyn Acosta first kicked a soccer ball at the age of four. He joined the national team program at the U-14 level, and made his senior debut age 20.
At club level, the rise for Acosta has been even swifter. Part of the academy at FC Dallas when 13, he signed a Homegrown contract just shy of his 17th birthday, and - once eligible - made his professional debut in a friendly match against English Premier League club Stoke City just over a year later, on July 27, 2013.
The first of his 117 MLS regular season appearances to date came as a 73rd minute substitute for Zach Loyd on August 3, 2013, in a 3-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC. A versatile player, Acosta has operated as a full-back, but seems to sit more comfortably in the center of midfield, a role he plays for both club and country.
In his sixth season in MLS, Acosta helped FC Dallas to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Supporters' Shield in 2016, the year in which he registered career-high numbers in minutes (2328), appearances (32), starts (24), and assists (5).
Not known as a goalscorer, Acosta has just nine goals in MLS, as well as 12 assists. That said, his first goal came three years ago this month, in his third season in the league. He opened the scoring in a 2-1 win for FC Dallas over D.C. United, the Rapids' next stop, this Saturday, at Audi Field (Altitude, 6:00 PM).
It was Acosta's coach at Dallas Tornado whom the Rapids' latest signing credits with forming the foundation for the player he would become. Zequinha played for the likes of São Paulo FC and Grêmio in his native Brazil, before an extended spell in the original NASL. He oversaw Acosta's development from age seven to until he moved to the FC Dallas Academy.
Growing up, Acosta enjoyed basketball, track and (American) football, but he quickly realized that his best chance of sporting success lay with soccer. He has represented the USA at the U-17 and U-20 World Cup, and also played for the U-23's as they bid to reach the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The past has shaped Acosta into the player he is today. Starting as a seven-year-old with Dallas Tornado, the midfielder from Plano, Texas is strongly seen as key to the future of the game in this country.
A rebuild has begun in the USA, following failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Acosta is very much a part of that rebuild and - as someone who doesn't turn 23 until Tuesday - he is expected to don the colors of the stars and stripes for some time to come.
DID YOU KNOW? As well as playing in front of Tim Howard with the senior national side, Acosta is also a former international teammate of Jack McBean and Dillon Serna. The two goalscoring heroes from Saturday's 2-2 tie at Real Salt Lake joined Acosta in the USA squad at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
He played against new Rapids teammate Deklan Wynne when the USA defeated hosts New Zealand 4-0 in the group stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015. New Zealand's coach was Darren Bazeley.
Acosta played alongside Anthony Jeffries as a youngster. Anthony's father, Mike, is now head coach of the Rapids' USL affiliate, Charlotte Independence.