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Brentford manager Frank raves over Brenden Aaronson


Brenden Aaronson and Leeds United may have ended up on the losing end in Saturday’s English Premier League showdown with Brentford, but the American playmaker caught the eye of Bees manager Thomas Frank following his performance.

Aaronson logged 90 minutes for Jesse Marsch’s side in a 5-2 road loss, continuing what has been a fast involvement in the Lilywhites’ squad since his arrival this summer. The former Red Bull Salzburg and Philadelphia Union midfielder has gelled right into Leeds United’s plans, starting in all six league matches to date, scoring one goal and adding one assist.

Frank was disappointed that his Brentford squad conceded twice at home, but praised Aaronson’s impact in the Leeds squad since his move from Austria.

“I think they’re really good,” said Frank postmatch. “With a narrow front four combining and tricky players, good players. Aaronson – what a player, what a player, that’s a top buy for Leeds. So I think we defended that a little bit bad, but also credit to Leeds.”

Aaronson won seven of 14 duels from his No. 10 position, while also drawing a match-high three fouls, and creating two chances in his outing. After playing under Marsch during his first season in Austria, Aaronson has continued to grow as a player, and has fit right into the plans at Elland Road.

Leeds United suffered their second league loss of the campaign, falling to ninth place in the table, but still sit among the impressive starters in the new season overall. Aaronson’s presence in the squad will be crucial to Leeds United’s fight to avoid any relegation worries this season, especially after making several key signings this summer.

Up next for Aaronson and Leeds is a home clash with rivals Nottingham Forest on September 12 before a trip to Manchester United to close out September’s short schedule.


  1. Ok so 2 months from WC we’re going to change our formation. If Tyler is our best defensive player why are we scheming to protect him? He took a terrible angle and left the entire middle open for a counter goal Saturday in a 4-2-3-1 so maybe we should instead encourage Tyler to not make bad plays? A lot of how we use Brenden will depend on Weah, Reyna, and Robinson injuries. This summer we used BA as an 8 with Weah outside him and Cannon as a stay at home RB. If you don’t have Weah or Reyna to play RW then you need Aaronson there, which is where he played for Leeds the first two weeks and was also very dangerous.

    • I hear you but I do disagree…to me, as a coach, passing patterns are less important than getting your best players in their best positions where they can most influence the game. All International soccer is a bit of a pick-up game, and you’re never sure who’s going to be available…so you’ve gotta be able to shift personnel and tactics on the fly anyhow. And we still have some key weaknesses to address anyhow. We aren’t so good we can just stand pat.

      To me the biggest problem we have, we’ll still have if we don’t make the switch: our “MMA” midfield is really good at a lot of things, but we tend to have a lot of the ball but no killer pass through the middle, limited ability to work in tight spaces, and so we essentially become a flank team with Dest and Jedi running up the flanks…and sending in bad crosses to no one in particular, and we don’t have a dominant 9 to finish anything anyway. We flash a lot of stuff, we don’t score enough goals, and we particularly struggle against low blocks.

      Moving to a 4-2-3-1 with creative guys like Aaronson and Gio at the 10 fixes that, IMHO, and makes us a lot more dangerous and one-dimensional in the attack. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, with our present limitations, I question if we’re even going to make it out of Group. I could easily see Wales putting a smash-and-grab job on us and winning 1-0 despite the fact that we had 60%+ possession. We lose or tie then against England that’s it, we’re out…after Game 2. It could be that fast for us despite our talent if we don’t get our attack unlocked.

  2. interesting comments from Frank considering this was Brendan’s least effective game to date on his new team imo. says a lot about what BA’s been doing.

    great post quozzel, you’ve not been alone re. BA (and scheming to our players’ strengths) but others are beginning to take note 😉
    also spot on re. Tyler in the double pivot, which is how Jesse is playing him with Roca.
    in the group stage ALL midfielders will need to be called on and so need to be ready to roll, to use the depth to attack opponents. GB’s got to match up the right groupings game to game imo; I expect, if healthy, Weston will run the 8 like he has in GBs double 8 with Yunus, but also with Brendan in there, etc.,
    Then, nothing too complicated nor to simple (Martinez’s Belgium) but some other look also, a changeup that plays to players’ strengths, like what you’re talking about…I hope we see something like that in these buildup games. that will also give opponents more to think about in preparation even if GB never goes to it.

    injuries and availability may decide much for GB so the more possibilities the merrier.

  3. I’ll say it again: Aaronson is our best – or at least most-effective and in-form – player right now and we have to feature him.

    He’s a pressing 8/10 tweener. He plays like a 10 and presses like an 8. (He calls himself an “8 and a half”.) He does best as the tip of the midfield spear in a 4-2-3-1…which also, IMHO, fits the USA’s personnel best anyhow because we have a bunch of guys who make great double-pivot 6’s but who struggle as single 6’s and often lack the killer final ball needed to unlock a defense in the final third.

    The only guys in the pool who operate well in those tight advanced spaces, IMHO, are Aaronson and Reyna. And to me that means: these guys are our 10’s. I’d start there on the team sheet.

    That bumps almost all the other C-mids to double-pivot 6’s…which, IMHO, suits them best. Tyler Adams is way better in a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1; I’ve seen him get exposed as a single 6. I love Musah’s ability to break lines and advance the ball as a double-pivot 6. Luca de La Torre is a natural double-pivot 6; he also advances the ball well and he prefers deeper positions and will cover box-to-box…what he doesn’t like to do is operate in and around the box and also like Musah and Adams he’s not a goalscorer and doesn’t look to shoot. Acosta’s definitely a natural 6/8 tweener, far better box-to-box than in an advanced position, iron lungs, a great shot from distance.

    McKennie’s a better 8 than 10, IMHO, but especially since you know Sergino Dest lives to get forward, IMHO you can get a lot of the same production out of McKennie by playing him as a squeezed-in right winger and letting Dest provide the width. Especially for these September friendlies with Tim Weah likely not available, I’d really focus on seeing what Aaronson and Reyna can do as 10’s in a 4-2-3-1, go to the double pivot, and experiment with McKennie and maybe Malik Tillman as right wingers.

    But I think the 4-2-3-1 is the best deployment for us, and Aaronson as our 10 needs to be the first name on the lineup.

    • I like much of what you post here … I don’t necessarily disagree I just would try something a touch different. I’d go 4-4-1-1 like we used to do with Deuce “in the hole/trequartista” style. I would use Musah in the RM role (pinched in) though. Let Wes work with Tyler to control the middle and we get numerical advantage with mUSAh pinched in and Brendan back pressing.

      Our play in transition would be pretty special with Pulisic being an outlet left, Aaronson through the middle and Wes being the third runner from RCM. Get Yunus in the “shuttler” role would make this tea, very dynamic and a threat on every break.

      I’d line up like so …

      —————— JP9 ——————
      —————— BA?——————

      • I like it. One advantage to your formation is Musah and Pulisic have a tendency to occupy the same spaces on the field and by bumping Musah right it sort of forces them back apart again, and we don’t have to deal with Pulisic sort of wandering around angry while Musah runs up his butt, which does happen way too much right now. It also puts a big driving impetus on the right side of our formation…which drags opponents out of Pulisic’s space and gives him more room on the ball, which is always a good thing. You’re right, that does give us a lot in transition and leaves him wide open for the switch, and that’s when he gets really dangerous. If Pulisic arrives at speed at the edge of the box with the ball he’s very, very tough to stop, especially if a defender can’t get a good angle on him.

      • Yes because if it’s one thing we want to do it’s put Pulisic farther from goal and make him play more defense. Is that you Thomas Tuchel? Changing formation changes your patterns of play and more importantly for this group changes their pressing patterns and cues.

    • quozzel,

      “I’ll say it again: Aaronson is our best – or at least most-effective and in-form – player right now and we have to feature him.”

      Are you saying that Gregg won’t?

      I love BA but I can guarantee you that Wales and England know exactly who Brenden is and are working on plans, as we speak, on how to shut him down. Like maybe put Dan Ariolla James on him the whole 90? Something like that

      Brenden is not a USMNT concern. It’s everyone else I’m worried about. BA ain’t doing this alone.

      One reason why BA is so prominent right now is because many of our other attacking players are not currently in form.

      Weah is hurt.
      Weston is coming back from injury and looks shaky.
      Gio seems like he’s got a long way to go.
      LDLT has yet to play significant minutes.
      And for all the bravura about how dangerous Pulisic is when he’s healthy and pissed off, the reality is that he does not look good and hasn’t for a while. He’s not sharp.

      That’s a lot of USMNT offensive firepower and creativity that isn’t going great at the moment. While they still have time to get healthy and to get it going, time is getting short.

  4. In this game, I was maybe a little more impressed with Tyler Adams. He seemed to be everywhere. Not as good, but definitely the USA’s own Kante.


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