Somebody once said that 90 percent of life is just about showing up, and if there’s something to be said about Brooks Lennon in 2020, it’s that he stood up and was counted when Atlanta United needed him.
Lennon was Atlanta United’s only outfield player to appear in every single MLS match during a season where it’d be very easy to claim a bad back, a tweaked groin, or even just straight up fatigue during a brutal season. But Lennon didn’t do any of those things, and his record of appearances is an indication that he was giving both Frank de Boer and Stephen Glass reasons to choose him with his performances in training. There’s something — a LOT — to be said for that kind of professionalism.
Position: Right side
Games Played: 23 (19 starts)
What went right this season?
On top of his fitness and ability to make himself available to managers at all times (including starting a match on late notice when the club suddenly and unexpectedly completed the transfer of Pity Martinez), Lennon provided functionality on the right side. Whether as a fullback or a winger, Lennon’s directness and hard running up the touchline was useful for the team tactically. As Jurgen Damm came into the side, he was moved back to play more fullback, but handled it well and typically offered average-or-above performances – something that can’t be said for many players during a miserable season.
What does he need to improve on?
Despite his general consistency, there were some individual errors committed by Lennon that can be cleaned up. The 4-2 loss on the road to Nashville SC probably stands out as his worst individual performance.
Generally speaking, Lennon is a player that is well-drilled on the fundamental technical aspects of the game, but could use with expanding his vision and ability to switch the play and find space for the team to exploit. Sometimes it seems like Lennon plays with his head down and only sees players in his immediate vicinity, making it easier for the opposition to squeeze down around the ball and set up a counter-press opportunity.
What role will he play in 2021?
As for specific areas of improvement, it really depends on where the club sees Lennon long term. While most of his time this year came playing in the attack, it’s hard to see a clear role for him in the same spot next year considering Jurgen Damm’s good run of form at RW in the final portion of the season. But will he play fullback if Franco Escobar returns? Maybe. Would a new manager play with a three-man defense and use Lennon as a wingback? Maybe! There’s still much to be decided with Lennon. But much like the man he replaced in Julian Gressel, I suspect Atlanta’s new manager in 2021 is going to be hard pressed to keep him off the field despite forces seemingly working against him.