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Brendan Aaronson primed for next chance with USMNT after strong start in Europe


Five months into his European career, Brenden Aaronson is already looking like a seasoned veteran and now the American playmaker is hoping to carry his impressive start at Red Bull Salzburg over to international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Aaronson has been called in for upcoming matches against Switzerland in a May 30th friendly and Honduras in the rescheduled Concacaf Nations League semifinals on June 3rd. The former Philadelphia Union homegrown player is coming off an impressive start to life in Europe, teaming up with now-former manager Jesse Marsch to win a domestic double in Austria.

With three domestic trophies under his belt in the past year between the Union and Red Bull Salzburg, Aaronson has arrived at his latest USMNT camp with momentum and sky-high confidence.

“It’s been a whirlwind of six months for me, and it’s been a crazy time,” Aaronson said. “It’s not always easy to come over and get acclimated right away and get into the group – you’re meeting new friends and coming into a new system and all these kinds of things, and it was tough at first. I think it was having the confidence of my teammates and my coaches, and that’s what kind of helped me push on.

“In MLS, a lot of teams will sit back a little bit, but in the Austrian league you have teams that even though you’re the top team in the league, you have guys that are flying at you [in] no time,” Aaronson said. “I think the time that I’ve been here, my decision-making in the final third has just gotten quicker and faster and I think it’s coming off really well, too.”

Aaronson needed little time to make an impact in Austria, scoring seven goals and registering five assists in 25 combined appearances with Red Bull Salzburg. He made his debut in the UEFA Europa League and also got the chance to work with a rising talented manager in Marsch for five months.

On the international level, the 20-year-old Aaronson has scored two goals and registered one assist in four appearances for the USMNT. The New Jersey native has continued to push for a consistent role in Gregg Berhalter’s squad, though he has been used predominantly on the wing in his recent appearances.

Aaronson is one of several blossoming prospects within the USMNT and his early time with Red Bull Salzburg was something Berhalter noticed earlier this year as beneficial.

“Being with Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg has had a positive effect on him,” Berhalter said about Aaronson back in March after a goalscoring performance vs. Jamaica. “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.”

Aaronson may get the opportunity to continue developing as a USMNT  Player as early as Sunday against 13th-ranked Switzerland before taking part in the Concacaf Nations League finals in Denver. His growing versatility as an offensive player has not only helped his stock at the club level with Red Bull Salzburg, but has given Berhalter more looks on how to use him with the USMNT going into several different competitions.

With big performances already under his belt in both MLS and Austria, Aaronson is ready to continue gelling with this current group of USMNT players and is hoping to deliver a few victories along the way.

“You’re seeing where they’re playing at, and they’re winning big trophies and it’s huge – it’s a really big step in U.S. football,” Aaronson said. “I’m really excited for the group of guys, and now it’s just pushing onto the Nations League and winning a trophy with this group of guys.”

“It’s always an honor, and I think that you’re going to do whatever you can to get on the field no matter what. It’s a good kind of test, and I think we’re going to do well with it.”


  1. From a USMNT standpoint, it would actually be great to see Aaronson pack on a few pounds of muscle and develop into a forward from his current central attacking mid position. He’s creative and has shown that he can put the ball on frame consistently in Austria. At this point the forward spot is a lot more open than Central Attacking Mid, with Reyna, Pulisic and McKennie all potentially occupying that spot ahead of Aaronson.

    Otherwise, he’s a great sub off the bench for one of the three or an injury replacement.

  2. “In MLS, a lot of teams will sit back a little bit, but in the Austrian league you have teams that even though you’re the top team in the league, you have guys that are flying at you [in] no time,” Aaronson said. “I think the time that I’ve been here, my decision-making in the final third has just gotten quicker and faster and I think it’s coming off really well, too.”

    some sbi readers: “well, of course Austria’s league is tougher than MLS!”
    those same sbi readers: “the english championship is pretty much a lateral move to MLS”

    • I think that pressure has also helped him in that it creates space to play the ball into. When he was in MLS he could be indecisive in making the final ball because teams would just stay compact. He also had trouble with finding the ball because he couldn’t find empty space. Teams in Austria trying to pressure creates holes for him to run into.I was just listening to a podcast and the guy was saying he actually found the 2Bundesliga more challenging because everyone is just pressure pressure pressure but in the Bundesliga teams would sit back give you time on the ball because the higher quality offensive players would just cut you apart. I don’t really know the quality of the Austrian league once you get below Salzburg and maybe LASK but the FA rates it lower than MLS for work permit requirements so I don’t think it is all that much better just maybe different tactics. Since Salzburg just carved up teams maybe they should try a different strategy against them.

    • Spot on! Nice Imperative Voice impression, Gabe!! I like the part about the lateral move. Players never ever transfer from the MLS (point A) to the Championship (point B) and vice versa. Lol! If someone doesn’t know the meaning of lateral? Maybe, we’ll all become geniuses like Charles Barkley if we keep reading their comments.

      • MLS to Austrian B-1 may be a lateral move league wise, but a move to Salzburg is still a move upwards due to their involvement in European competitions. Salzburg is also well regarded as a feeder club to the big boys in the German and English leagues.
        Aaronson has fit in well and shown a lot of promise since his move. If he continues as he started I would not be surprised to see him targeted for a move in another 12-18 months.

      • do y’all realize we have CCL? it’s odd that people act like early rounder UCL is a huge deal but the snobs don’t care where a MLS team finishes or if it plays in regional competitions. kind of like no distinctions are made between if you are in MLS Cup or holding the wooden spoon. but UCL! UCL! UCL! even if your team didn’t make the group round, or went down in flames to europa.

        it’s also a misleading argument because while pulisic and mckennie are fairly regular, many european teams use their B side players for cup games like UCL, and thus people are confusing the equivalent of a USOC cup runout — to rest the starters — with them being focal. playing in the early round cup games tends to reflect expendability as opposed to dominance. so holding up UCL as an elite competition is odd until the late rounds when teams field their first choice players.

        it’s one of those arguments that appeals to snobbery but does not reflect how the tournament is actually staffed.

    • Yea he is in a good spot. If he can demonstrate himself to a new manager (who might bring a different system) and but in a solid full season at Salzburg with some strong performances in European competition he will likely be able to move to a solid Bundesliga team at a minimum.

    • re Aaronson’s comments, (1) German/Austrian teams tend to be high effort and physical and you don’t see the field otherwise, (2) USMNT and MLS used to be that way but has recently drifted in the direction of more of a touch game — ironically in mimickry of europe — and (3) he may simply be learning it’s different playing for a top dog as opposed to a mediocrity.

      fwiw while i have suggested we should get back to more discipline and defense like germany and italy, physical vs technical is not inherently better vs worse but rather options to choose from. in fact snobs routinely argued MLS’ old physical style was “crude.” now you like a league where he will get slide tackled if he stands on the ball too long. make up your mind.

      i’m not the one flip flopping like a fish here. i appreciate the physical defense. it’s still an inferior or at best lateral league like playing in sweden, norway, denmark, most of scotland.

      • 5-10 years ago no one would have described MLS as a league where they “sit back a bit.” we used to be compared to brazil, until we increased international slots, brought in more DPs, and kind of went in a more touch soccer, 433 direction.

    • IV: Most top teams in UCL play first team players until they’ve qualified for knockout round. Richards didn’t sniff the field until Bayern had 9 pts and big GD (not officially safe). Villarreal’s squad that Aaronson faced in Europa league was very close to the squad that just beat ManU. Now you’re right in Europa League group stages there is a lot more rotation amongst Top 5 league teams. If you look at the LigaMX teams that won their quarterfinal matchups with MLS teams they were using mostly reserve sides too.

      • you’re finessing what first choice nmeans. a sub like steffen for city is seen as a name brand player. you’re then like they’re putting out the name brands — which big clubs have in bulk — on onto their benches. but starting steffen is still starting their bench. you’re just arguing semantics over what different benches look like at different teams. a “cup” player at city might be a “starter” elsewhere — which is why they are where they are.

      • No you just refused to admit you are incorrect. Teams do not field reserve sides in CL at least not until they are assured advancement. Steffen played one CL game after Man City was through, Ederson played because they were putting out their best team. When Barcelona played PSG, Dest didn’t get beaten by Edourd Michut he got beat by Mbappe. Mbappe went the full 90 minutes in all 10 CL matches he was healthy for. Messi went full 90 in 6 of 8, he sat second meetings with Kiev and Ferencvaras because they were through. Ronaldo played full 90 in the six matches he didn’t have Covid in Juventus’ CL campaign. Lewendowski went 90 in first four CL matches until Bayern had clinched Muller went full time in 8 of 9 and scored the tying goal in the one he didn’t start.Clubs play reserves sides in the country’s cup matches because they usually are playing 2nd and 3rd division sides until the late rounds not UEFA CL. Also you discredited players playing the UCL because MLS has the Concacaf CL. The Mexican teams pretty much played their reserves. Your point was factually incorrect.

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