FC Dallas-Fire Preview
Kellyn Acosta turned 20 on July 24 and is in his third MLS season, making him one of the most experienced youngsters in the league.
Now he's getting his time to shine.
Acosta looks to score in his third straight match and help visiting FC Dallas match a club-record six-game win streak by beating the last-place Chicago Fire on Sunday night.
Dallas (11-5-5) is 7-0-4 when Acosta is in the starting lineup, including 5-0-1 since he returned June 19 from playing for the U.S. national team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
During his first two seasons, Acosta didn't have a shot on goal while starting 20 of 29 matches. He has 17 shots this season with four of his five on goal in the last two.
The Texas native scored his first MLS goal in a 2-1 win over Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United on July 18 before netting another and assisting on one of Michael Barrios' two goals in a 4-1 win over Portland on July 25.
"I feel like I'm being more consistent," Acosta told the league's official website. "I'm getting a lot of games there, practicing there, getting a lot of touches, and I think I'm getting used to it. And as games go on, I'll keep progressing and getting better."
Acosta's contributions have helped Dallas become one of the teams to beat in the highly competitive West. It has outscored opponents 13-2 during its five-game run and is on the verge of matching the 1999 club for the franchise's longest winning streak.
That '99 team beat Chicago to set the record, and this Fire team could have similar difficulty preventing that from happening again.
Chicago (5-11-4) has the fewest points in MLS and has won only twice in its last 14 matches. It took the lead on Razvan Cocis' goal in the 75th minute in its last contest July 25 before New England scored in the 77th to force a 2-all draw.
Shaun Maloney scored on a penalty kick for the Fire, who have dealt with their share of injuries. Former league MVP Mike Magee has missed 15 matches, including the last two, while batting a knee injury, and captain Jeff Larentowicz has been out the last five with a neck injury.
Coach Frank Yallop said there's a chance both could return for this contest. Brazilian forward Gilberto, who was claimed off waivers Monday, won't be available.
"The spirit's been good," Yallop told the team's official website. "I've been a few times in this sort of position when you're not getting the results you deserve or you feel a little bit hard done by, and teams tend to fold. This team's not. I think we all know we're better than what the table shows, which is a positive."
Aside from Acosta, the Fire will need to contain Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz. Castillo has scored half of his team-best eight goals over the last six, while Diaz has scored in three of the last four.
Dallas has dropped three straight meetings with Chicago, though. Larentowicz had an assist in the 83rd minute in the Fire's 1-0 victory in the last matchup Aug. 30.