Brenden Aaronson has hit the ground running at Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg and now the American midfielder is ready to carry that form over to the international level this month with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Aaronson returns to the USMNT for upcoming friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland, his latest opportunity to work with Gregg Berhalter and several of the key figures within the squad. The Medford, New Jersey native has mainly been used in an attacking midfield role in his past appearances, but is ready to do anything and everything when called upon.
“I’ve been in camp enough to know what my role is here and what position I’m going to play and that kind of thing,” Aaronson said in a conference call on Monday. “I’m really just going to do whatever Gregg asks me to do. If it’s playing center mid, if it’s playing winger, if it’s playing a little bit more defensive, it’s what I’m going to do to help the team and that’s what I’m here for.
“I want to help the team win these two games. I’m really, really confident in the way we play here.”
Aaronson is one of many attacking players trying to solidify a spot in the USMNT squad ahead of several competitions starting this summer, including the Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League Final Four. The 20-year-old attacker has scored one goal and added one assist in his past two friendly appearances, while also adapting to a new role in Europe after two stellar seasons in MLS with the Philadelphia Union.
With many European talents such as Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, and Josh Sargent in the current USMNT squad, Aaronson will have the chance to work with many players for the first time. It will be a key learning opportunity for the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder, who will look to play a part in both friendlies and help lead the Americans to a pair of victories.
“I feel like whenever I come in with Gregg and the assistant coaches here, I’m always learning something new and I’m always learning something different about the game,” Aaronson said. “I think that’s what’s really special about here.
“It’s also learning off my teammates like Christian, Gio, Josh, all these guys, even the guys that play in the EPL. All these different players have so much different knowledge and it’s awesome to kind of learn from.”
Aaronson hasn’t missed a beat in Austria since his arrival in January, totaling 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals and adding two assists. The versatile playmaker also made his UEFA Europa League debut against Villarreal and is closing in on the 1,000-minute mark in his early time abroad.
The connection of working with American head coach Jesse Marsch paired with the early first-team minutes has given Aaronson confidence at Red Bull Salzburg, a positive for his time with the USMNT. While his goal of lifting a first European trophy has been put on hold due to the international break, Aaronson credits his time in Austria for helping him improve his game on all levels.
Now he will aim to demonstrate that with the United States.
“I’ve been learning a ton under Jesse and Red Bull Salzburg right now. These past couple months I feel like I’ve been just rapid learning,” Aaronson said. “Every game has gotten better and better and the team’s been performing at a very high level. And the thing that I feel like I’ve grown dramatically in, I think it’s my final-third outcome.
“I feel like in the final third I’ve been making the right decisions with Red Bull Salzburg right now, and I’m constantly getting in that position to make the final-third pass. And that’s something that will only help me with the national team, because I’m going to get chances here to play that final pass, to score that final shot.”