Brenden Aaronson came into the U.S. Men’s National Team camp looking to keep up his good run of form from Red Bull Salzburg. The midfielder didn’t get the start on Thursday in Austria, but was able to boost his stock off the bench.
Aaronson was substituted on by head coach Gregg Berhalter at halftime and went on to score the second goal for the USMNT in a 4-1 victory over Concacaf rivals Jamaica. It was the second-straight international outing for Aaronson where he found the back of the net, and a lively performance from the midfielder overall.
“First of all I am really happy with the win, it’s great to play Concacaf teams like this, it’s awesome to have these moments before we go into the competitive matches,” Aaronson said. “Jamaica is a tough opponent, they are physical, they get after you so it was tough in the early going, but we stayed with it. For me it was coming off the bench and just making an impact as soon as I could.”
“I was super happy to bring that goal to the team which really separated it at 2-0. It’s tough coming off the bench because sometimes you could be mad at the coach, but for me it’s a great opportunity to be here. I wanted to take the chance as it came to me. My mentality before the game was relaxing and I wanted to make an impact when I was called upon.”
The 20-year-old replaced Christian Pulisic at halftime and didn’t need long to double the USMNT’s lead in Weiner Neustadt. Josh Sargent created room near the end line to hit a cross back in front of goal, allowing Aaronson to streak into the six-yard box and score.
It was a poacher’s finish from Aaronson, who helped close out the USMNT’s second win of 2021 and fourth-in-a-row dating back to last fall. After seeing most of his time in the past at the No. 10, Aaronson played on the left wing, a role he’s continued to grow into at Red Bull Salzburg.
Aaronson finished with two shots on goal while completing 14 of his 15 passes in the match from left wing. It was an impressive spark off the bench for Aaronson, who has continued to make an impact in his outings with the USMNT.
“I really liked his performance today,” Berhalter said on Aaronson. “When you win you are gushing about everyone, but I really think he had a strong performance. He gave us verticality on the wing, he gave us calm and composure. Made some really good plays offensively and his pressing was also very good. Being with Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg has had a positive effect on him. He’s battling with everyone, no matter if he is twice their size. He doesn’t hesitate and that also benefitted to his strong performance.”
“I’ve been playing on the left wing of late with Red Bull Salzburg so it was a bit of a change coming back into the No. 10,” Aaronson said. “I was learning new ways to get behind the backline and be a threat. Being a winger is something new for me, but Gregg helped get me ready for this moment. I feel comfortable with that position and you can always get better, which I will do. It was fun playing there today.”
Aaronson’s versatility is only going to be a benefit to him and the USMNT heading into a busy 2021 competitive schedule later this year. The former Philadelphia Union midfielder has jumped right into Jesse Marsch’s squad in Austria, playing a key role in the competitive Bundesliga schedule.
Up next for Aaronson and his USMNT teammates will be Sunday’s trip to Belfast for a date with No. 45 ranked Northern Ireland before returning to Red Bull Salzburg. After making a positive impression off the bench on Thursday, Aaronson will be keen to keep his form going for both club and country.
“The quality around this team right now is special,” Aaronson said. “The players around you get the ball into great positions which you saw tonight. As soon as I got onto the field I get a good pass from Sebastian and then I set up Gio who almost scores, it’s continuing to get into those situations. Salzburg is just helping me get into more dangerous areas when I get the opportunities with the National Team.”