Atlanta United: George Bello’s time to shine

After impressing supporters in the 2018 season, George Bello’s time to shine is now as Atlanta United takes on a match-heavy 2019 season.

After a 2018 season that saw the Douglasville, Georgia native George Bello make his Major League Soccer debut, the upcoming 2019 season is the chance of a lifetime to become a regular starter and succeed in MLS.

As the 2018 season progressed, the excitement around Bello began to grow in anticipation for his first appearance for Atlanta United’s first team in MLS.

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That moment came for the Nigerian-born American on September 2, when he replaced Hector “Tito” Villalba in the 76th minute of a 3-1 defeat for the Five Stripes against D.C. United.

And after impressive form over three matches towards the end of the season that included a goal against the New England Revolution and a blistering showing of pace and athleticism that will take him a long way in the senior game, the 2019 season sets up to be the homegrown’s breakout campaign.

During the 2018 season, Bello was split between Atlanta’s first team and their USL affiliate Atlanta United 2. Add that to competing with talented veterans in Atlanta’s first team, and it makes sense why it took so long for the 17-year-old to make his MLS debut. But with recent transactions by the Atlanta front office, Bello’s chance is right there for the taking.

The offseason saw the Five Stripes lose all-star Greg Garza to FC Cincinnati and Chris McCann to D.C. United, while also picking up veteran Brek Shea from Vancouver Whitecaps.

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Shea’s arrival is key to provide depth for Atlanta as they take on the CONCACAF Champions League and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup along with the usual rigors of the MLS season. But he is far from an assured starter and there will be the opportunity for Bello to win that role, something that he is more than capable, even at his tender age.

Fans will still have to wait and see who starts on the left under new manager Frank De Boer, but with so many matches, it is almost certain the Bello will play a key part for the champions in one competition or another. His exciting quick pace created havoc for opposing defenders and gave supporters only a snapshot of what he is able to do if given the opportunity. And with a difficult 2019 season on the horizon, his opportunity is right in front of him.

Next: MLS: 3 players primed for a 2019 breakout

2019 is George Bello’s time to shine. Atlanta United fans should be very excited indeed.