Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda has praised center back George Campbell after his spectacular contributions in the 3-0 victory against Orlando City.
Newly appointed Pineda was said to be working closely with Campbell over the last couple weeks as the homegrown player showed tremendous potential in training. The 20-year-old did not disappoint, opening up the scoring against Orlando in the 25th minute with a powerful header.
“I can see a center back with tremendous potential,” Pineda said.
“He’s a center back that is physically gifted. His aggression when he presses between the lines was fantastic today, so I was pleased with his performance before he scored the goal. He did a couple tackles on the ground, and we gained a couple important balls in transition that helped us to continue the attacking. I am very happy with his performance.”
Prior to the international break, Atlanta United suffered a 2-0 defeat against Nashville that forced Pineda to internalize and regroup.
“I think part of what we learned last week was the defensive shape and how we have to get rid of the mid-marking and all of that,” Pineda said. “We need to march solely, but the moments we engage a player we have to do it aggressively. I know [Campbell] did that. I am very happy for his first goal. His teammates were very, very happy for his first goal, and that makes me even more happy because he’s a team guy, and the players love him.”
The center back has featured only nine times for Atlanta United since turning professional in July 2019, recording 433 Major League Soccer minutes. With an injured Miles Robinson, Pineda gave Campbell the opportunity to earn his place.
The fight for the position will strengthen once Robsinson returns to the squad, but Campbell insists there’s no tension between the two.
“Nothing but positive thoughts and encouragement – I thought that was the main thing,” Campbell said of pre-game talks with Robinson. “I think he was one of the people to say, ‘Get yourself a goal.’ It was positive thoughts.”