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2017 Player Profiles: Danilo Acosta

A good run at the U20 World Cup and RSL injuries gave Acosta meaningful minutes, which he used to prove himself as a reliable left back.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Danilo (Danny) Acosta embodies the vision for the next stage of Real Salt Lake: he is a graduate of the RSL Academy, played 18 games for the Monarchs in 2016, and has moved on to be a starter for the first team. Acosta, who was born in Honduras, lists Sandy, Utah as his home. In addition to his accomplishments with the RSL organization, he has 23 appearances for the United States U20 National Team (1 goal).

2017 was a good year for Acosta. In December of 2015, he was signed as a Homegrown Player to Real Salt Lake’s roster, but didn’t see any minutes for the first team in 2016. As with several other younger RSL players, Acosta missed the first part of the 2017 season due to the U20 World Cup. He was on the US squad and played significant minutes in that tournament.

As it often goes, the injury of one player gives opportunity to another. Demar Phillips only played in 13 games in 2017, a significant drop from his 29 matches the previous season. Phillips was plagued with several muscle injuries throughout 2017 and this gave Acosta his chance at left back. After a strong end to the season, it’s easy to forget the inconstancies in the defensive line up in the early part of the year. Danilo returned from the U20 World Cup and was given a chance on the back line for a struggling RSL. He did well with that chance. His rise wasn’t dissimilar to Justen Glad’s emergence as a young star for the team one year earlier. His demonstration as a reliable left back was one of the team highlights in 2017.

One of Danny’s biggest strengths is his speed. The kid is fast. He’s able to blaze up and down the left side of the field, contributing to both attack and defense. Over the season, his positional awareness improved after a few big mistakes early on. He isn’t great with his right foot and this weakness could be exploited by opposition. Over all, Acosta is a very gift young player whose stock is on the rise. 2018 should be a good year for his growth and he’s likely to be given the starting spot at left back.