Luciano Acosta

Report: Man United scouted D.C. United’s Acosta

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Count Manchester United in as the latest European giant to scout D.C. United’s star playmaker Luciano Acosta.

Just a few months after Paris Saint-Germain nearly signed the Argentine on transfer deadline day last January, Manchester United has reportedly sent a scout to watch Acosta, according to a report from Pablo Maurer with The Athletic. It’s Acosta’s fourth season at D.C. United but he’s finally lived up to the talent he has since the arrival of Wayne Rooney in July 2018. Last season Acosta had 10 goals and 17 assists, most of which came in the second half of the season.

[READ: Everton tops Arsenal with Jagielka’s goal]

So far this season, he has one goal and two assists in five matches, though he struggled in Los Angeles FC’s 4-0 rout of D.C. United last weekend.

It’s likely that Man United sent a scout to Audi Field on the advice from Rooney himself or his intermediaries, but it’s also a sign that big clubs in Europe are really starting to scout and look at players plying their trade in MLS. Miguel Almiron’s performances for Newcastle since his arrival have shown that the level in MLS has risen to the point that stars in the league can fit into the Premier League in the right setting.

MLS is an attractive setting for Premier League clubs to see if players can grow. Especially for South American talents, its a chance to move to a new culture, learn English and challenge themselves in a more physical league, all of which are similar to the Premier League. While the talent and skill level in the Premier League is clearly higher, just adapting culturally and learning how to live abroad are key skills that will make the adjustment to England much easier.

Barring any sort of big departures this summer, it doesn’t look like there’s a place for Acosta at Old Trafford at the moment. He’d certainly be behind Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and maybe even Alexis Sanchez in the depth chart.

Per The Athletic, Acosta has drawn interest from clubs in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, England and France.

DC United tops defending champions Atlanta in season opening match

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Since leaving Ajax in 2016, new Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer has struggled in the early portions of his managerial tenures. He lost to Chievo in his first Serie A match in charge of Inter, he lost all four Premier League matches while leading Crystal Palace, and now he has a loss to begin his Major League Soccer tenure.

D.C. United found goals from Paul Arreola and Luciano Acosta on each side of the halftime break to win 2-0 its first match of the season and hand Atlanta a loss in the opener for the second straight year.

While Atlanta held more possession throughout the match, they managed just nine total shots with only two on target. Meanwhile, D.C. United whipped off 16 shots with six on target, keeping Brad Guzan busy. Acosta ran the midfield and was a constant threat for the Atlanta back line to deal with.

The match was scoreless until first-half added time when a corner swung in for D.C. and found the feet of Wayne Rooney on the doorstep. While he was unable to put the ball into the back of the net under heavy pressure, his mis-hit effort trickled to Arreola at the near post for a power blast and the lead.

Out of the break, the hosts doubled the lead through Acosta as the Argentinian whipped a long-range knuckler that swerved enough to throw Guzan off balance, wrong-footed and left to watch the ball roll past him into the back of the net. It was a bad moment for Guzan in a match where all eyes were on his performance after fellow USMNT international Bill Hamid had choice words before the match. “I’m better than Brad Guzan,” Hamid said on Sunday before the game.

Atlanta was never able to find a way back into the match, unable to complete a single pass in the penalty area all match despite a nearly 150 pass advantage throughout the match. D.C. United also doubled Atlanta United up on chances created, with the home side putting together 10 key passes to Atlanta’s five. Acosta and Arreola, the two goalscorers, also combined for five of D.C.’s 10 key passes as they were instrumental in the build-up.

The loss for Atlanta is not concerning at this point, given they fell 4-0 to Houston in last year’s season opener. They bounced back from that in extraordinary fashion, with a run of seven wins in eight matches before their next loss. It remains to be seen if De Boer can emulate the success under Gerardo Martino last year, but there is plenty to improve on after this performance.

For D.C., this result gives credence to fans who were excited to see if the club could recreate the success they had to finish out last season, hoping to carry that over to a full campaign.

Report: PSG to sign D.C. United midfield star Acosta

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No matter how many other deals get done on this here transfer deadline day, this will be the one that leaves everyone scratching their heads, thinking, “Surely this can’t be right.”

UPDATE: It wasn’t (and it was). PSG and DC United were misled together in an odd tale that did not end well for Acosta. Read here.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundupTuesday | Monday ]

Alas, here we are, now with multiple reports from all around the world, backing up the Washington Post‘s initial report that Paris Saint-Germain will sign D.C. United midfielder Luciano Acosta before the transfer window closes on Thursday.

PSG is, of course, the mega-oil-rich club in the French capital; yes, it’s that D.C. United, the MLS home of Wayne Rooney; and Acosta is, for those unfamiliar with his work, a very good no. 10 — by MLS standards — who became unplayably exceptional the second Rooney arrived in the summer.

[ DONE DEALS: Arsenal get Suarez; Newcastle land a defender ]

The fee is expected to be in the neighborhood of $10 million. PSG’s bid came just hours after Saudi club Al-Hilal, the same one that announced their capture of Sebastian Giovinco from Toronto FC on Wednesday, had a bid of $7.5 million rejected. Acosta’s agent has certainly earned his commission on this one.

With Neymar currently set to miss the next 10 weeks with another broken metatarsal, some have opined that Acosta has been identified as a short-term solution for the lack of attacking creativity from which PSG is sure to suffer over the next two months. That almost makes sense on PSG’s part. As for Acosta, who’ll be paid so handsomely that his kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ kids are already set for life, it’s a massive risk that could effectively ruin his still-blossoming career if he ends up going out on loan after loan in the coming years — but a risk he must take.

As stated above, Acosta is undoubtedly one of the best players in MLS, and we had probably only seen him scratch the surface of what he would do here in North America, but this is PSG we’re talking about here.

[ MORE: Top 5 players to watch on Deadline Day ]

He’s 24, so not exactly the rawest prospect to be further developed; he’s not an American, so the added bonus of entering that particular commercial market is virtually nonexistent, outside of 5% of hardcore MLS fans; it’s not as if he’s been on the radar of every European giant and PSG came out on top.

Only, according to the Post‘s report, Premier League giants Manchester City were in the mix and attempted to hijack the deal at the last second. We told you this was a weird one.

Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN today from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

DCU win again, look like genuine playoff contenders

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The game in 200 words (or less): No individual — other than Ben Olsen, perhaps — has benefitted from the arrival of Wayne Rooney at D.C. United more so than Luciano Acosta. Through his first 82 games in MLS, Acosta managed to rack up nine goals and 23 assists — a healthy enough haul considering the lack of quality around him since day one in 2016. Still, the frustration and unhappiness were plain to see, every time the Argentine playmaker’s teammates weren’t able to link up or finish one of his brilliant through balls. In United’s last five games (Acosta has played 438 of 450 minutes), including Sunday’s 2-0 win over the 10-man New England Revolution: four goals and three assists. Of course, United, as a whole, have benefitted greatly, too. Their record in Rooney’s eight games: 5W-1D-2L (prior to his debut, the Black and Red won just two of 14 games). Olsen and Co., have risen from last place in the Eastern Conference and reach the dizzying heights of eighth place, where they are now just six points back of fifth and sixth place — a de facto impossibility just a month ago, when they had just 10 points to their name and were 13 off the pace of sixth.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez ties MLS record with 27th goal in 2018 ]

Three moments that mattered

13′ — Acosta finishes with aplomb at the back post — The three Revs defenders, who let the ball run across the face of goal without making any attempt to play or clear it, could have done just about anything else and it would have been preferable to what they did.

73′ — Caldwell gets a second yellow, Revs down to 10 — Scott Caldwell didn’t need to run into Junior Moreno a full second or two after the ball was away, but he did so anyway. No advantage to gain from the “challenge,” and Caldwell’s teammates had to finish the game a man short.

89′ — Stieber gets in behind, makes it 2-0 — Rooney had skied a nearly identical chance just seconds earlier, leaving it up to Zoltan Stieber to put the game to bed.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luciano Acosta

Goalscorers: Acosta (13′), Stieber (89′)

Rooney saves the day defensively, sets up DCU’s stoppage-time winner

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The game in 200 words (or less): Luciano Acosta was the man that scored the hat trick in D.C. United’s dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City SC at Audi Field on Sunday, but his three goals will fade to an afterthought following Wayne Rooney‘s unbelievable stoppage-time heroics (watch below). United had failed, for more than 35 minutes, to capitalize on their man advantage following Cristian Higuita’s 55th-minute red card and a disappointing draw looked inevitable, but Rooney came through with the best play in the game the season league history to not only save the day on one end of the field, but to then win it on the other end. Now, two points are all that stand in the way of United getting out of the Eastern Conference cellar. Orlando City, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to throw away anymore points if they hope to qualify for the playoffs — for the first time in franchise history — in 2018. James O’Connor’s side certainly can’t afford to throw away anymore points due to self-inflicted wounds — say, for instance, dismissals for petulant conduct. Alas, such was reality for the Lions on Sunday.

[ VIDEO: USMNT’s Weah scores first Ligue 1 goal in goofy fashion ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

45’+4 — Acosta beats Bendik at the near post for 1-0 — Rooney just sees and reacts to the game faster than anyone else on the field, and it shows most clearly during seemingly innocuous moments. Take, for instance, this simple, first-time lay-off to Acosta. No second touch required, just move the ball on as quickly as possible. Goal.

55′ — Higuita sees red for throwing an elbow — Higuita didn’t need to throw an elbow at the head of an opponent, but he did anyway. Higuita didn’t need to leave his own — and his team’s — fate to be decided by referee JC Rivero, but he did anyway.

64′ — Acosta times his run and finishes at the back post — It was close — like, really close — but Acosta is probably, based upon the best angles available for viewing, onside. The ball from Yamil Asad couldn’t have been played better.

71′ — Dwyer times his run, lifts it over Ousted — Speaking of timing runs perfectly, Dwyer did just that in order to stay onside and get on the end of Rosell’s through ball. The finish over top of David Ousted was emphatic.

90’+6 — Rooney saves the day on one end, wins it on the other — Do you still think Rooney is in MLS just to collect a large paycheck without putting in much effort? Watch his game-saving tackle, followed by the pinpoint diagonal ball from 50 yards, then answer that question.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luciano Acosta

Goalscorers: Acosta (45’+4, 64, 90+6′), Ousted (50′ – OG), Dwyer (71′)