George Bello is one of the most exciting young talents in MLS, and one of the key players tasked with helping lead Atlanta United to a bounce-back season under new head coach Gabriel Heinze after a difficult 2020.
With his team fresh off a wild 1-0 victory over LD Alajuelense in their Concacaf Champions League opener, which saw Atlanta overcome a first-half red card to goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Atlanta's 19-year-old left back stopped by Extratime to talk over his initial impressions of playing under Heinze and his goals for the upcoming season.
Regarding Heinze, Bello said that his early takeaways are all positive as the former Argentine international defender imparts his identity on the club.
"He's a great coach and a great guy on and off the field," Bello told hosts Andrew Wiebe and David Gass. "He brings passion to the game, which I love, he's so passionate. Whatever he wants, you'll get from him. He makes everything clear to everyone. He's always asking me to ask questions, he wants you to know everything about how we're going to play to the detail, which I love as well.
"When a coach has that passion, that energy, it really translates to the players on the field too, as I hope you guys can tell. If everyone has that passion and he's correlating that to us as well, that passion on the field is going to help us in the long run. I'm loving him so far."
Bello also didn't shy away when asked about his aspirations for the rest of CCL, saying that he and his team have full belief that they can be the first MLS team to win the competition. As for the regular season, Bello said it's all about recapturing the magic of the Five Stripes' early days in MLS which saw them take the league by storm with some of the most dominant and entertaining soccer we've seen in the league.
With a fresh start under Heinze and the return of superstar forward Josef Martinez, who missed all of 2020 with a torn ACL, Atlanta look primed to do exactly that.
"For Concacaf obviously I would be a shame to the team if I didn't say we want to win it all," Bello said. "We want to go all the way. I feel that we are very capable of it. We have a really talented team, so obviously the goal is to always win, so obviously to win Concacaf. But for now the goal for Tuesday is to close out it out and move on to the next round.
"Regarding the season, I would say just get back to the Atlanta United winning ways. Obviously last year, I feel like speaking for me and team, we all feel like it wasn't good enough. It wasn't what Atlanta United represented in the way we played. I feel like this year the main goal is to get back to winning ways, get back to that real Atlanta United style of play and just winning games and playing with our hearts no matter what the circumstance may be in the game, still giving it our all and seeing where that takes us throughout the season."