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  • Writer's pictureSoccer Down Here

Brooks Lennon and the Evolving Offense


Amidst the buzzing of Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday night, there was an equation being worked on. It happened in plain sight, just without the Tex Avery-level sequence showing the process. Instead of something over the top, fans were treated to unique changes in Atlanta's 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution. It wasn't a sweeping change, but just a pin in an ever-changing lock being adjusted.


It is no secret that Brooks Lennon runs a lot. A lot, a lot. Oftentimes, his heat map looks like someone spilled a jar of ragu on the right side of the field. It's been discussed repeatedly by fans, media and even Pineda himself that while Lennon's workrate is almost superhuman, his defense has been an improving work in progress. However, while this has happened, another work in progress has been unfolding with his ever-expanding offensive role.


Last summer, Pineda started deploying Lennon and more and more as an extra body in the middle during build up. Sure he's on the team sheet as a right back and he defends there, but c'mon, this is Atlanta. A team that is going to attempt to dictate the pace of the game with the ball at their feet. So naturally, he spent a lot of time in that build up roll in the middle of the field, helping to overload other teams and create situations where people take screen shots and say "see that guy in the middle? He's in hell right now trying to figure out who to mark." The extra body assists Atlanta in keeping the advantage when building, not just in pure numbers but also his technical ability with the ball at his feet.


Atlanta has apparently decided to push this idea into phase two in 2024. Lennon was pushing even further up the field against the Revolution, oftentimes sitting somewhere between right back, right wing, even looking on screenshots like a right-sided number 10.


"What I'm very happy about today's tactical understanding from Brooks is that he understood when he had to stay out wide, when had to come in the pocket, when he had to go up as a winger," said Pineda after the match. "Those coordinated movements between Saba and him were very difficult for New England."


Along with the more advanced freedom from Lennon, Atlanta has had to develop discipline and chemistry with the way they play. As a team that operates incredibly aggressively in the attack, that's often easier said than done and requires a fair amount of bravery.


"I think Brooks has been tactically improving a lot," continued Pineda. "And the other thing is, I'm very happy that most of the time when Caleb (Wiley) goes, he was staying."


For the team, the big payoff was the third goal, a grand symphony build-up from a short goal kick that ended with Lennon putting a perfect cross on the head of Giorgos Giakoumakis to provide the Greek striker with his second goal of the night. On the evening, Lennon was 4 for 7 on his crosses and passed a 94% clip.


There is still a lot of work to be done for Atlanta in 2024 but the nuance of Lennon is important. He certainly is not the only one being asked to take risks and exploit space, but is a clearly visible example that, while you can always change a game with a sweeping sub or formation change the same way you hammer steel, smaller tactical changes can heat and bend the metal just as effectively.


Photo courtesy of Dave Williamson (IG @davewphotography)




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reddoc
12 mar

Excellent reporting. Really enjoy in-depth analysis like this. Brooks is a beast who gives his all to the team and works hard to improve all aspects of his game. And Pineda and his coaching staff give him the tools and encouragement to do that. Bravo to them all. It's fun to watch the successful execution of those plans, especially in a rockin' home opener!

Polub
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