IMAGE: Lucho MTL 2

Luciano Acosta has quickly adjusted to MLS, emerging as a creative force for D.C. United in his first season in the league. The only midfielder to play in all 21 league matches for United this season, “Lucho” has dazzled fans with his foot skills and creativity. Ahead of the Black-and-Red's upcoming home match against the Union, he leads the team in successful dribbles and assists (38 and four, respectively) and is second in chances created, with 26. 

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Acosta joined United in February on a season-long loan from Boca Juniors, a powerhouse in his native Argentina. Since then, the 22-year-old has impressed the coaching staff and his teammates playing in an attacking midfield role. He scored his first D.C. United goal on a spectacular chip from outside the box against the New England Revolution, which later won him MLS Goal of the Month honors for April. “He’s super cheeky and tough to defend… he’s a great player,” United defender Steve Birnbaum said of Acosta.

At five-foot-three, opponents often erroneously underestimate Acosta, who capitalizes by using his low center of gravity to his advantage. His quickness makes him a nightmare for taller defenders, and he frequently draws from his wide repertoire of flicks and tricks to entertain fans and embarrass opponents. “He’s got a lot of magic in him,” Chad Ashton, United assistant coach, said. “You’ve seen it already in the little glimpses when he’s played that he can pull off a big-time play.”

Before arriving in D.C., Acosta played two professional seasons in the Primera División in Argentina. He signed with Boca Juniors at 19 years old after playing in their youth system for several years and made 25 appearances for the club. Lucho was then loaned to fellow Argentine side Estudiantes de La Plata for the following season, where increased playing time helped his development continue on a rapid trajectory. 

“In Argentina, perhaps you had a little more time to think about what you could do,” Acosta said citing the speed and pace of the game as one of the key differences between the style of play in Argentina versus the U.S. “Here, you go past one player and then there’s another player after you.”

Nicknamed la Joya (“the Jewel”) in his home country, Acosta is a player with sparkling talent, and at such a young age he has a promising future. Most comfortable playing just behind the strikers, Lucho has improved with each match since joining the Black-and-Red. His consistent appearances in the starting lineup are certainly boosting his confidence and signaling that he is adapting to the style of play necessary for success, both on this team and in this league. His deft touch catches the eye and his improved passing has lent another dimension to the United attack.