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Orlando City Acquires Defender Danilo Acosta on Loan from Real Salt Lake

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The Lions will have an option to make the loan permanent after 2019.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As first reported yesterday by Soccer By Ives, Orlando City has acquired Real Salt Lake defender Danilo Acosta. The club announced the deal today with the 21-year-old Acosta coming to Central Florida on loan from Real Salt Lake with an option to make the transfer permanent at the end of the 2019 MLS season. In exchange, the Lions sent RSL $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM).

“Danilo is a young, talented player who brings national team experience to our roster,” said Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. “He has the qualities and character we are looking for in a left back and are excited to bring him on board and start working with him for the preseason.”

The defender had been a starter for the Utah-based club until he lost his position to Aaron Herrera last season (read RSL Soapbox’s comparison of the two here). RSL also acquired former Orlando City defender Donny Toia in the MLS Re-Entry Draft, which crowded the depth chart at the left back position.

The Homegrown product has played center back, left back, and defensive midfield for RSL. In his first two seasons playing for the first team, Acosta appeared in 29 games, starting 26, and recording 2,307 minutes. He tallied four assists in two seasons. This past season he played in 12 games, starting 10, and recorded 896 minutes. Acosta spent the 2016 season with Real Monarchs of the USL, appearing in 18 matches and tallying 1,135 minutes. In 2016, he was selected to the MLS Homegrown Game.

Acosta is a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, although RSL lists his hometown as Sandy, UT, and he does have U.S. citizenship. The U.S. youth international played 16 matches with the U-20 USMNT in 2016 and 2017, scoring one goal for his country. Acosta won the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship, scoring the game-winning penalty in the final against his home country of Honduras. He also represented the United States at the 2017 U-20 World Cup in South Korea.

As the link above to the RSL Soapbox piece says, part of the reason why Acosta lost a close battle with Herrera for Real Salt Lake’s left back spot came down to an attitude perception. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote about it here.

RSL coach Mike Petke declined to comment on Acosta’s situation Monday, saying, “It’s not about individuals, for the most part. Maybe that’s a question for Danny.”

It seems there has been an accumulation of little things that have eroded Acosta’s standing with Petke. The Tribune has learned a report back from the USMNT camp raised concerns about Acosta’s attitude. During one preseason training session in Tucson, Acosta talked to reporters before the team had finished stretching and didn’t respond to Petke’s summons until he had finished the interview.

While that may raise some eyebrows, it’s not unusual for a young player to require some maturation and, hopefully, if there was an attitude issue it was something that can be corrected or was specific to his situation in Salt Lake City.

What it Means for Orlando City

Acosta would fill a need for Orlando City after they lost left backs Toia, PC, and Mohamed El-Munir following the 2018 season. While Toia was selected in the Re-Entry Draft, El-Munir was traded to Los Angeles FC on Dec. 11 for João Moutinho. PC was traded on Dec. 9 to the Vancouver Whitecaps for a third-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

There’s a trend developing. Both Moutinho and Acosta can play both left back and center back, which will give James O’Connor some flexibility in adjusting the shape of his team from a three-man back line to a four-man or even a five-man when needed.