Bello a ‘leading light’ for Atlanta United this season

Sept. 19, 2020 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta United defender George Bello attempts to kick the ball against Miami defender Nicolas Figal (5) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday, September 19, 2020 in Atlanta. Atlanta United lost to Miami 2-1. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

eorge Bello, described as one of Atlanta United’s leading lights by interim manager Stephen Glass, said on Monday that he finds inspiration from different things.

It has taken a season longer than expected, but Bello, 18, has locked down the left fullback job for the Five Stripes, which will host Dallas on Wednesday.

Earning that job has been the result of Bello’s studying of other left fullbacks, his work in training to improve defensively and the motivation of being the last of a group of Homegrown signings currently with the senior team. The results have been better positioning, better support within the formation, better aggression and better individual results.

“He’s been fantastic,” Glass said.

Bello was thought to move into the starting role last season – he was in the 11 for the first Champions League game in Costa Rica - but adductor injuries limited his playing time to just appearances with Atlanta United 2 for the remainder of the season.

Bello learned from that frustrating experience and dedicated more time to preventative care with his body.

This season, the team brought in veteran Edgar Castillo to push Bello. The Douglasville resident hasn’t yielded, starting eight of the team’s 12 games, including each of the last four.

With each start, Bello has improved. At the beginning the season, there were times Bello would get caught up field too far, leaving Atlanta United exposed to counter attacks.

Bello, listening to the coaching staff that he credits with knowing how communicate with him, and watching film of players such as former Atlanta United fullback Greg Garza who is now with Cincinnati, Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich and Andy Robertson of Liverpool has helped him with his positioning and recovery runs. Bello says he tries to put himself into their positions on the field. It is working, several times in past games, Bello has gotten back to make a key tackle.

Glass said he thinks that his has been Bello’s biggest area of improvement since he began working with him at Atlanta United 2 last season.

“When I first got the homegrown contract (in 2018), I didn’t have experience at the pro level,” Bello said. “Getting a lot of games has been really helpful for me.”

Bello’s offense hasn’t been questioned. He scored in his third and final appearance for Atlanta United in 2018.

Bello notched his second goal against Nashville. Glass used it as an example of Bello’s development. Glass said, watching film of the game, the scoring sequence started with Bello marking his man near midfield. The ball was on the other side of the field. Bello began running toward Nashville’s goal. Glass said the only reason Bello was running was his belief that he could contribute. He did, getting on the end of a cross by Adam Jahn to hit a left-footed shot into the lower right corner.

Bello notched his first assist in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Miami. It came on a pass to Jon Gallagher. Bello said the shot was much better than the assist.

Bello was part of a group of three Homegrown signings that included Lagos Kunga and Patrick Okonkwo. Kunga is on loan to Phoenix in the USL for the remainder of the season. Okonkwo was released following the 2019 season. The first Homegrown, Andrew Carleton, is on a season-long loan with Indy in the USL. Chris Goslin, the second signing, was released following the 2019 season.

WEDNESDAY’S GAME

Atlanta United vs. Dallas, 7 p.m., FSSO

In Other News