Two Atlanta United players called up by U.S. men’s national team

July 4, 2021 - Atlanta, Ga: Columbus Crew midfielder Alexandru Matan (20) and Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon (11) fight for possession of the ball during the first half at Mercedes Benz Stadium Saturday, July 24, 2021 in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
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July 4, 2021 - Atlanta, Ga: Columbus Crew midfielder Alexandru Matan (20) and Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon (11) fight for possession of the ball during the first half at Mercedes Benz Stadium Saturday, July 24, 2021 in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Atlanta United fullbacks George Bello and Brooks Lennon were called up by the U.S. men’s national team for its friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Dec. 18 in Carson, Calif.

Centerback Miles Robinson, a standout for the U.S. this year, wasn’t called into camp in order to allow him to rest and recover, according to manager Gregg Berhalter. He said Robinson will be called into the January camp ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

“It’s going to be about being aggressive going forward,” Berhalter said of what he wants to see from Lennon and Bello. “You know, being really clinical in the penalty box, good decision making in around the penalty box.”

Bello, a 19-year-old who grew up in Douglasville, has five appearances for Berhalter. Bello has 52 appearances for Atlanta United, including a career-high 29 with a goal and career-high three assists this season. He signed with the club as a Homegrown player before the 2018 season. Team Vice President Carlos Bocanegra recently affirmed that Bello is of interest to clubs in Europe.

Berhalter said that Bello has “high parts” of his games as well as inconsistencies that they want to try to help him strengthen. Berhalther said that Antonee Robinson has performed well for the U.S. at left back. He said after Robinson, the position is wide open, so there is an opportunity for Bello to earn another call-up to the January camp.

Lennon, 24, has 20 appearances for the U.S. youth teams but has yet to appear for the U.S. senior team. Lennon was acquired by Atlanta United in a trade with Real Salt Lake before the 2020 season. Lennon has 55 appearances for the Five Stripes as part of 141 appearances in MLS. He had a career-high six assists this season. He did participate in the January training camp for the U.S. in 2018.

Berhalter said that Lennon is a player who they’ve tried to call up to past training camps, notably the January 2021 camp, but couldn’t because Atlanta United didn’t want to release players. It was working under a new manager, since-fired Gabriel Heinze, and preparing for the Champions League.

“I think he showed that relentlessness of attacking and defending up and down the line and really, really good fitness,” Berhalter said of Lennon’s 2021 MLS season.

Both Bello and Lennon are attacking fullbacks or wingbacks, but do their jobs differently. Lennon typically stays outside, from where he will deliver crosses. His 70 key passes were tied for seventh-most in the league this season. Bello typically likes to cut inside with underlapping runs and attack the goal. He had a career-high 29 shots this season. That total was among the highest for MLS defenders.

Other left backs on the U.S. roster include Jonathan Gomez of Louisville City and Kevin Paredes of D.C. United. Other right backs include Bryan Reynolds of Roma.

The January camp will be ahead of qualifying games against El Salvador on Jan. 27, Canada on Jan. 30 and Honduras on Feb. 2.

The roster

Name (club; appearances/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): John Pulskamp (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 12/0)

DEFENDERS (11): George Bello (Atlanta United; 5/0), Justin Che (FC Dallas; 0/0), Jonathan Gomez (Louisville City; 0/0), Kobi Henry (Orange County SC; 0/0), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; 1/0), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 21/3), Kevin Paredes (D.C. United; 0/0), Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA; 1/0), Auston Trusty (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 22/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 44/2), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 2/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 29/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 15/0)

FORWARDS (7): Taylor Booth (Bayern Munich II/GER; 0/0), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 4/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 39/10), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 6/3), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 65/14).

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m.

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m.

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