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.”