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George Bello pleased with “dream” debut for Arminia Bielefeld

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George Bello didn’t have to wait long to cross his European debut off his checklist as the American defender featured in front of the Arminia Bielefeld faithful on Saturday afternoon.

Bello played the final 19 minutes of Bielefeld’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Moenchengladbach, becoming the latest U.S. men’s national team player to feature this season abroad. The 20-year-old helped Bielefeld earn one precious point in its fight for league survival in 2022, closing out a home draw against its 13th-placed visitors.

Bello hasn’t been able to watch much of his new team this season, but is already expecting more success as the second half continues.

“I felt like we played really well,” Bello said in a club interview. “We were dominant in the first half and I even felt like we controlled the game. We got one now and not none at all, which could have happened. But we will continue to develop and make things here so that we can get even more wins in the future.”

After waiting in the wings at Atlanta United for his first two seasons with the first team, Bello earned his opportunity throughout 2020 and 2021 for the Five Stripes. The Homegrown left back made 50 combined league appearances for Atlanta United, scoring two goals, registered four assists, and getting an early taste of first team action.

The Nigeria-born Bello also earned six caps for the USMNT in 2021, a testament to his continued growth at the professional level. Bello was able to experience his debut in front of the home supporters at the SchucoArena, another dream that has become a reality in recent months.

“It’s wonderful and I thank God for it,” Bello said. “It’s a dream of mine that came true today and I’m glad I was able to help the team a little bit. I hope that’s just the beginning. I’m super happy about my debut and can’t wait to see my family and tell them about it. I’m just super happy.”

Bello is one of four left back options in Frank Kramer’s squad, joining Andres Andrade, Jacob Barrett Laursen, and Nathan De Media as players who will be relied on. Bello might be the new guy in the squad, but he’s also the youngest, providing a new presence of excitement to the team’s plans.

Bielefeld extended its unbeaten run to six matches with Saturday’s home draw, but will have tougher matches on the horizon with Hoffenheim, Union Berlin, and Bayer Leverkusen on the schedule for the remainder of February. Bello will continue pushing to make the starting left back job his, but already has the support of his new manager after a positive debut.

“He is a very open guy,” Kramer said of Bello. “He is willing to work. He wants to learn. He is a good guy, a good character. He is fast and he has good technical skills, so all in all it is a good package. He can help us and we have to work with him so that he can improve and get into the team and the ideas we have as quickly as possible.”

Comments

  1. It’s not just Bello. If you take a moment to consider, the vast majority of young Americans who move from MLS to Europe usually gets regular minutes and often starts within a relatively short time after their arrival in Europe. Not only does this say good things about American players, I think it illustrates that MLS is closer to European level than many of us used to think. I’m not saying MLS i9s as go9od as a top 5 European league, but it is probably on par with a number of leagues close to the top 5.

    Reply
    • I agree. I’ve watched MLS’s level rise year after year. It’s hard to point to an actual “level” in some ways because the salary cap and DP rules create such a mix – you’ve got a handful of elite guys at the top who could play and start for any Big 5 league, another 5-8 per roster who fill out the remainder of the lineup who could (and sometimes have) played in the Championship, and then you’ve got a bunch of sub-$75K-per-year guys who are probably English League One level…and a lot of those guys are often very young.

      When rosters are healthy and players aren’t away on International duty, you can see a really good level. When injuries deplete rosters and International duty takes away starters, that level can drop noticeably. Dog days of summer tend to be particularly bad, though that’s often when you see the younger guys getting their chances, too, and establishing themselves.

      But there’s no doubt it’s done astounding wonders for America’s talent pool, and turning into an absolute pipeline to the big Euro leagues. (Which is also true for Canada.)

      Reply
  2. Bundesliga! Here we go! I may be an Orlando City supporter all day long, but I can acknowledge that this is the 5 stripes academy 1st homegrown player to make the jump! If he spends the rest of the year in the 18, and is actually playing. Does this mean his agent is better than Horvaths or Hoppe?

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  3. I always thought Bello had a monster upside but was technically a little inconsistent, but it was hard to avoid noticing he was easily Man of the Match against the Liga MX All-Stars in the MLS All-Star game this past summer, against a field that was easily International level. When a guy shows you that level of talent, he’s showing you his ceiling and Bello’s was clearly extremely high but we haven’t seen that guy on any kind of consistent basis yet. Playing in a Big 5 league means it’s raise your level or die…and he’s good enough to raise his level. I love Antonee Robinson – well, except for his crossing! – but I do think Bello’s got the raw talent to challenge him.
    Would not shock me in the slightest if Bello’s on that plane to Qatar in the end, and I definitely think he factors for the ’26 roster at the least.

    Reply
    • Very young player with definite upside- not yet ready for international level. Be really good for him to narrow the focus- settle in with a new club, new league, develop his game outside the context of the national team. He does that- he could be a great option for us next window.

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