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Aaronson hoping to cement USMNT place following stellar MLS season


Brenden Aaronson’s stock has risen to new heights in 2020 and Red Bull Salzburg-bound midfielder will have one final chance to raise it even more on Wednesday night.

Aaronson will close out his schedule with what could be his second cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team on Wednesday against El Salvador, his latest chance to impress Gregg Berhalter and his staff.

The 20-year-old Aaronson made his debut for the USMNT in February, appearing in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica and since has helped deliver a first trophy for the Union.

After being one of the top players in MLS this season, the attacking midfielder aims to carry that energy and ability over to the international stage.

“I want to have a stake in this team, be a part of it for the future,” Aaronson said Monday. “I think that this camp and getting this game against El Salvador was big for me, because I want to show what I can do after the year I’ve had. So I’m just going to go into the game and just try to play my best and help the team win.”

“I’ve been in for a few camps now, so I’m finding my role in the team and I think that the role I’ll probably be playing, hopefully in the future and in this camp, is one of the two attacking center mid’s I really enjoy find that position because I can get forward and I can defend. I feel like I can do both.”

Aaronson took a major step forward with the Union in 2020, increasing his goals and assists while starting in all 24 of his appearances. His impact in Jim Curtin’s squad not only caught the eye once again of Berhalter, but caught the eye of Austrian powerhouse Salzburg, so well that the club paid roughly up to $9 million for his services.

Aaronson will join Jesse Marsch’s side in January, becoming the first Union Homegrown player to make the move abroad. Wednesday’s match may just be a friendly with many European players missing, but it’s a major opportunity for Aaronson to show another glimpse of his playmaking and creative attacking ability.

“When I think back to January when he made his national team debut to now, he’s had a fantastic season of improving his performance almost weekly so I think he’s done a great job,” Berhalter said about Aaronson. “What we’re looking for him now is to validate it. Validate it on the field. It’s a good opponent we play. Against El Salvador, it’s going to be a tight game and this is where he should be able to be very effective. We’re really looking forward to him capping off a strong season with a good performance against El Salvador.”

“It’s just awesome being part of two teams because at one team, you’re learning other stuff, at the other team you’re learning other things and it kind of comes together. It works really well,” Aaronson said. “I think that I’ve taken big steps this year and I’m really happy with myself.”

Aaronson will be joined by plenty of MLS-based players on the field in Florida on Wednesday including club teammate Mark McKenzie, who also made his senior debut in February. Despite many European-based players not being allowed to this camp due to their club schedules, Aaronson’s past interactions with them have helped play a part in how he has prepared for this next opportunity.

“I got to work with Christian [Pulisic], Weston [McKennie], Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris, all these guys that are playing at a top level week in, week out, either in Europe or in MLS. And you see how these guys work, Aaronson said. “I remember after that game I was thinking to myself wow, this was an eye-opener. I want to do whatever I can to be a part of this team week in and week out, and I think that it just made me work even harder because I knew at that point that I can try to make this team.”


  1. Aaronson is talented, he has very quick feet, despite being rather slight, he has avoided major injury and he is tactically aware. He moves to good spots and he makes good passes to open teammates and when he has the opportunity, he as capable of dribbling at the defense successfully. Next year he will have the chance to work under Marsch who has shown the ability to help young players grow (as an assistant at PU, at NY Red Bulls and now at Red Bull Salzburg)

  2. A “playmaker” good for 4G 3A all season? Meh. But he’s about to go play in Austria. Austria? Really? I’m glad Marsch is flying the flag and building his rep there but it’s a lateral or downward soccer move. It’s not Adams at the other RB team in Leipzig.

    • I’ve watched him play a few matches for the Union and very often he was involved in alot of the build up to goals. He made the initial pass or secondary pass, etc. that eventually ended up in a shot on goal or a goal. So his numbers don’t seem otherworldly but he does have a bit of game.

      I agree that Austria is not a top league but RB Salzburg is a feeder team. I bet he was a strategic purchase to sell on in 1-2 years. Erling Haaland was at RB Salzburg at this time last year….

      • What the US needs that was lacking 2014-2018 is precision of the final ball. We had plenty of Nagbe types who could run around and make the pass before the pass before the pass for the goal. We need the last one. A guy with 3 assists is not that guy. He’s an “8” and I think we need more 10s and 6s and less in between mush.

      • Sadio Mane, Naby Keita & Takumi Minamino currently with Liverpool, Erling Bruat Haaland currently with Dortmund,
        Amadou Haidara and Dayot Upamecano currently with Red Bull Leipzig all previously played for the Austrian champs FC Red Bull Salzburg at one time.

      • I think it’s more money and gets his foot in the door in Europe. I also think by wisely picking Marsch’s team he won’t run into bias issues for being American. The whole “Pulisic has some to learn” thing with Lampard at CFC for example. It’s upwards in some ways but we used to have Dynamo players like Jaqua Ngwenya Clark go to Austria so to me it’s lateral.

      • It’s a circular argument where UCL somehow makes you good as opposed to reflects the fact you’re joining a team already in first place. hmmmm It also neglects that often early round cup games in Europe are like USOC here — when you play the kids and rest the core league players. I used to live there a little while, and you don’t go to the European games expecting first choice. If they play — like if they play in FA Cup — it’s actually a sign you are working from the margins. The first choice players show up when the money’s on the table.

    • @IMPERATIVE VOICE, Wow! I really think Don Barber should look you up; wine and dine you, then offer you a director of global marketing job for MLS. From the Philadelphia Unions to Red Bull Salzburg is a lateral move, or even a DOWNWARD soccer move for Aaronson?????? I believe even Don Barber didn’t have the balls to make that absurd statement without . To date, no MLS teams have stepped up, at least not yet, to beat Liga MX in winning the CONCACAF Champions League title, and MLS is already equal to, or even a class up the Austrian Bundesliga? You’re kidding me.

    • Clark went to Frankfurt which is in Germany not Austria. Jaqua played for Rheindorf who are a perennial bottom half club, and a Ngwenya played for a club that lasted 3 or 4 seasons and folded, in his half season in Austria he made one appearance. Not sure either those Austrian experiments prove your point. Two journeyman MLSers couldn’t make it on bad teams in Austria. Ngwenya is a bizarre story, never great in MLS couldn’t get on the field in Austria yet somehow played in the 2008 German Supercup for Bayern Munich!

    • Salzburg is a really good team which they have shown vs very good competition in European games. To say this is a lateral move is really stupid. The Austrian league itself is not a powerhouse, but a move to RB Salzburg is a huge step up in exposure and expectation. They are expected to win every match in their league. That itself is a good challenge. He will get exposed to many of the top teams across Europe a handful of times a year. He will train with some of the top up and comers from around Europe. He will absolutely be seen by scouts from across Europe playing in one of the great developmental clubs in the last 5-10 years.
      Your hypocrisy on this is hilarious. You are constantly stating how our younger players should prioritize PT and exposure vs the glamourous big clubs. Here we have a perfect example of a guy doing exactly that and your saying its a step down.

      • i don’t think 3G 4A suggests he has “mastered” MLS where he should move on so fast. nor do i see where austria is a step up. i see it as a money/europe move, not a more serious soccer test. i also find amusing the CCL comparisons to mexico the week his team is eliminated from UCL and sent to europa. he is going from MLS that can’t beat mexican big dogs to austria that can’t beat their big dogs. fwiw i think MLS is systematically underrated when you’re pulling the snob argument that any second rate european league is better. you do realize the level of players at LAFC, Seattle, Atlanta, etc.? Vela? Ruidiaz? terrence boyd used to play in austria. it’s a solid league that i am sure pays well in a country that pays more attention to skiing. i think it’s a downward move and maybe lateral since it’s the champion. i notice y’all left out jaqua having 5 goals in 13 games there. you don’t get to claim “hypocrisy” or “doesn’t prove my point” when you just ignore the counter evidence. and while i am sure salzburg can be a ticket out of austria to germany and particularly leipzig, for coach and players alike, that is not actually an argument that the austrian league is good. that is an argument that it is below germany and is a stepladder up. those are different things.

      • you’re spinning fwiw. my argument is get your playing time and master each step before moving up. like haaland. unlike haaland he has not dominated mls where i think he needs to move on. to me unless you dominate MLS your transfer moves become risky. a dominant player — landon — isn’t risking his chances or time when he moves. he is in demand next stop. a more moderately talented player takes a risk moving. i think his risk is somewhat ammeliorated by marsch being his coach. but i am personally with twellman where some of these kids should sit tight rest of the cycle, consolidate their NT gains from a position of strength, and only move next cycle when their NT status is secure. a lot of these noobs are one foot on a NT banana peel and moving abroad risks getting stuck in a horvath soto wood green situation where GB then forgets your phone number…..perhaps you lot could consider there is downside risk on player movement and that it can affect your ability to get called in……even if you haven’t lost a step……

      • no, it’s amusing. the superior coaching abroad — a recent former MLS coach. the UCL team? already eliminated. and the pretense is you sign a paper and become magically better. antonee robinson who signed at fulham looked like the same mixed bag who was at wigan. yedlin to me didn’t progress one bit since he left. it’s a myth. if anything rubs off it takes years. he doesn’t sign a contract and magically become better tomorrow. and today he’s still at the union.

      • There is risk with every transfer and also risk by continuing the status quo. The inherent risk of this move to Salzburg seems relatively low with major potential upside. Your supposition that the Austria league is weaker than MLS and that’s all that matters assumes that is the only challenge that matters. Again the challenge of being expected to win every match will be new and not easy. The challenge of adapting to a new country is another very difficult thing that develops mental strength and personal confidence. The exposure to some of the top teams in the world 10 times a year is a real challenge he would not get in mls. He will also not be guaranteed to start right away in this club. He has to go prove it in a new environment that he can bring it. All these things lead to professional growth just as much as the overall talent in the Austrian league. Development does not happen in a vacuum. There’s many and more reasons why this makes sense

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