16-year-old George Bello became the 6th youngest goal scorer in MLS history and Julian Gressel found the back of the net as well, as Atlanta United moved one step closer to the Supporters’ Shield with a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution.
Atlanta nearly pounced twice within the first 80 seconds. A Miguel Almiron cross just missed finding Josef Martinez in the box and an Almiron goal was disallowed by the assistant referee. In short, it was kind of a tease. The payoff made it worth it though.
16 minutes later, Bello, slipped in behind the New England back line and rocketed the ball past Brad Knighton and into the back of the net for his first career goal.
You might be wondering: Did he Milly Rock after he scored? Yes. Yes he did.
Bello said that the celebration wasn’t planned. Excitement just took over. In fact, the excitement didn’t stop.
“I don’t think I’ve settled down yet,” Bello said post game.
His teammates noticed, too.
“I’m extremely happy for George. I don’t know if he’s in the locker room yet, he might still be crowd surfing. There’s a lot more to come with him though,” Gressel said.
Excitement was the main feeling many of the players and observers had when talking about Bello. There’s always someone there to be a downer though.
“We all have to remain calm with Bello,” Tata Martino said. “Even though he has all the ability to play and he did really well in his second start, he’s still only 16 years old. We know that now we have two finals left to play and then the playoffs start so now we know that he’s capable if he’s called on.”
Unfortunately, the Bello coronation was dampened a bit. Almiron left the game in the 30th minute with an apparent hamstring injury. The Five Stripes took a 1-0 lead into the half but a potential injury to one of the best players in the league put a black cloud over a solid first-half performance in a major game.
Tata said that Miggy will likely miss the next two games. He also said that the news simply means others need to step up.
“Sometimes the team just has to play stronger as team.We saw it last week when New York Red Bulls were missing two of their best two players,” Martino said. “Maybe the guys around him aren’t as talented but they’ll need to step up.”
While the injury is concerning going forward, it didn’t impact the second half. In the 52nd minute, Tito Villalba fed Gressel for a chance inside the box. Gressel didn’t disappoint.
New England added a goal deep into stoppage time thanks to Juan Agudelo. It did not matter.
Thanks to Bello and Gressel, Atlanta United move four points ahead of New York Red Bulls in the Supporters’ Shield race, with the Red Bulls slated to face San Jose later tonight. Thanks to an international break, the Five Stripes will have a week to rest before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Oct. 21 for the penultimate game of the regular season against the Chicago Fire.