2018 was a pivotal year for 21-year-old Brooks Lennon as he not only signed a permanent deal with Real Salt Lake after spending a year here on loan, but he also locked down a consistent spot in the starting eleven, becoming an integral part of Mike Petke’s plan going forward.
While Tony Beltran was sidelined all season long with an injury suffered at the end of the 2017 season, and with some solid depth on both wings of the attack already, Petke put his trust in Lennon to slot in at right back. He took a gamble and it paid off.
Lennon went on to make 33 appearances while notching 32 starts on the season. He quickly adjusted to life as a defender, and while it wasn’t all smooth sailing, he soon made that position his very own and stayed there all season long.
It only made sense — Brooks Lennon is a starting-caliber player, but with the likes of Jefferson Savarino and Joao Plata, Lennon wasn’t set up to get a whole lot of playing time. He’s a pacey attacker who also showed no hesitation in tracking back on defense, so it seemed a perfect fit for him to step in at fullback in Beltran’s absence.
He was a handful for other teams, who sometimes didn’t quite know how to handle him at times. While he didn’t score any goals, he notched five assists, which says something about how quick he could run up the flank and send service into the other attackers.
2019 seems a little up in the air as far as where Brooks Lennon will fit in. Beltran is back from injury with a brand new contract, and one would assume he’ll step back into a starting role fairly quickly. RSL also brought in fullback Donny Toia from Orlando, who we suspect will be getting significant minutes at left back, if not taking over as the main starter altogether. Aaron Herrera, who had a stellar season playing as RSL’s main left back, also provides some depth and can play on both sides of the defense.
With the aforementioned wingers still very much at play, where does that leave Lennon?
At the very least, he can take comfort in knowing he can play multiple positions with no problem, allowing him the option of coming off the bench at any given moment as a fullback, a winger, or even a center forward.
Although, maybe with all the rumors (the very, very, very distant rumors) of Joao Plata’s imminent exit, that could open up a big spot in the attack for Lennon to get a huge chunk of minutes this season.
Regardless of what happens with the rest of the team, we know that Brooks Lennon is a staple in RSL’s plans moving forward. Though he’s still considered one of the young players on the team, the homegrown attacker has loads of experience, having spent time at Liverpool with their U-23 team as well as having a huge role on the U-20 US Men’s National Team. With all that experience, he’s poised to become a leader both on and off the field as RSL continues to build a wealth of youthful talent.