Brendan Aaronson wasn’t expected to be this good, this soon. Back in January, the then-19 year old attacking midfielder made the move from the Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Salzburg. Although well-known in Major League Soccer circles, he was still largely thought of as a long-term project for Red Bull and for the United States Men’s National Team. But as he showed with the Union, Aaronson is a quick learner having immediately made a name for himself in Europe and with the USMNT in World Cup Qualifying.
Since joining the Red Bulls, Aaronson has quickly moved up the depth chart to being a full-time starter. In his first 29 matches, he scored six goals and helped the side clinch both the Austrian Bundesliga and the League Cup. The former MLS Best XI midfielder has made a name for himself in Europe with his creativity on the ball and his runs into dangerous space off of it. In his first Champions League match against Sevilla, he broke down the normally stout Los Nervionenses defense helping his side earn a 1-1 draw.
The rise in his play in Europe has turned Aaronson from a midfielder that was in the mix for a USMNT roster spot to a mainstay. Although his first cap goes back to 2019, he really came on the scene earlier this year when he helped defeat Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League Final. His willingness to take on multiple defenders has helped the young American side cope with a difficult World Cup qualification process, which sees the side at the top of the table but on very shaky ground. Should the side qualify for Qatar they will likely look back on Aaronson’s goal in the 86th minute on the road at Honduras as a game-changing moment.
At 20 years old, Aaronson’s stock only seems to be on the rise. While he might not have the street credentials of a Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, or a Giovanni Reyna, his C/V is filling up with standout performances for club and country. A strong run in the Champions League with Salzburg and getting the USMNT back into the World Cup would be two huge bullet points for the young midfielder and would certainly pick-up the interest of the larger sides in Europe.