Atlanta United’s Lennon, Lopez forming good understanding

His partners ahead of him keep changing, but Atlanta United fullback Brooks Lennon continues to lead the team in key passes this MLS season.

Not only is Lennon first on the team but he is tied for sixth in the league with 15 key passes. The team will host Nashville on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“No matter who is playing on the wing, I have a good relationship with everyone,” the fullback said Wednesday.

This season, the tireless Lennon has been the constant on the right side of the team’s formation. He has played with Jake Mulraney on the right wing, Jurgen Damm on the right wing, and Erik Lopez the past two games.

With Lopez as two-thirds of the passing triangle that the team typically tries to engage in, Lennon has a team-high seven key passes in the past two games.

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

“Telepathically, we communicate well and are trying to do the movements the coaching staff asks of us,” Lopez said. “We are just getting that understanding. I think we are doing well.”

Lopez is the third teammate Lennon has had on the right because of injuries to others. Mulraney started the season on the right and moved to the left because of an injury to Ezequiel Barco, which forced manager Gabriel Heinze to move Marcelino Moreno from the left to the center. Damm sustained an injury in the same game as Barco against New England on May 1, which opened a path for Lopez. His first start was on the left at Miami before moving to the right against Montreal and at Seattle.

In the three games he has started he has helped the team secure five points by keeping possession and winning fouls.

Lopez signed with Atlanta United last season as a striker. Unable to play because of MLS rules, Lopez trained and trained. He said he feels he is more dynamic, has improved his movements, techniques and understanding of tactics during the past year.

Lopez was moved to the wing by Heinze in training camp. Lopez said he is comfortable at either position and is working to learn the movements that Heinze would like to see.

Lennon said he was impressed by Lopez’s ability to quickly move into the first team and earn minutes.

“His ability to adapt right away to MLS-style play and speed of play has been really good,” Lennon said. “I’m happy he’s getting minutes. Hopefully, he can keep improving and score some goals this year.”

Creating and scoring is something both players say they can work on to help the team improve in the final third. Neither has a goal or an assist in a league game, but Lennon won a penalty kick to earn the 1-1 draw at Seattle. Atlanta United has scored seven goals in six league games.

“We are one of the teams with the highest possession,” Lennon said. “We have a lot of movement. It’s about connecting that final pass, trusting yourself in that final third and getting shots on goal.”

SOUTHERN FRIED SOCCER

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 20 vs. Philadelphia, 2 p.m., ESPN

June 23 at NYCFC (at Red Bull Arena), TBD, BSSO/BSSE

June 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN

July 21 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FS1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE