In a move that will surprise no one, Luciano Acosta’s year of frustration is set to end with the midfielder leaving D.C. United, as he told The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer. United seems likely to retain Acosta’s MLS rights, as they have made him offers; however, in addition to European clubs being on the table, apparently there are unnamed MLS clubs interested as well. Even with Acosta being out of contract, I would think that it would require more than is typically traded for discovery list priority for Acosta to be traded within the league.
Acosta had two runs of incandescent form in his career at D.C. United, both of which propelled D.C. United to the playoffs. The first was in 2016, when he and Patrick Mullins, along with Lloyd Sam, Lamar Neagle, Rob Vincent, and many others, went from July 31 through the end of the season with only one loss. That season ended with an ignominious playoff defeat to Orlando City SC, though it led D.C. United to pay its then highest-ever transfer fee to permanently secure Acosta’s services.
The other run of just superb form was just this time last year, the famed LuchoRoo combination between Acosta and Wayne Rooney that again propelled the team into the playoffs on the back of an unbeaten September and October. That season also ended in the first round of the playoffs in a heartbreaking loss to the Columbus Crew on penalty kicks.
Other times, he was inconsistent, a tantalizing talent who sometimes tried too hard to do it all himself. Sometimes that seemed to be because he was who the whole team looked towards; other times it seemed like he was trying to prove to everyone watching that he deserved to be there over the players started in his place. We’ll talk about his 2019 more specifically in an upcoming Season Review article, but suffice it to say he seemed a bit of both of these this year.
This team doesn’t need necessarily need a player like Luciano Acosta to play solid, top-five in the Eastern Conference soccer year-in and year-out (as long as everything is executed well). But they do need an Acosta, one firing on all cylinders, if they want to take that next step back into the upper echelons of the league. The offseason is long and full of twists and turns, starts and stops, but the drum we always bang will be as loud as ever. If you stand still in an MLS offseason, you get left behind.
Thank you for everything, Lucho. You’ll be missed.