Monday, January 30

Who is Brenden Aaronson? USMNT’s “Medford Messi” starring in Champions League, move to Premier League possible | Sporting News

Brenden Aaronson has enjoyed a meteoric rise to U.S. national team stardom over the past two years.

From humble New Jersey beginnings, the 21-year-old has transformed into a critical player not just for the national team, but for his club team RB Salzburg as well, possibly earning a step up to the world’s most visible league.

An attacking midfielder who can also play out wide, Aaronson has become a player with a relatable skill set to Lionel Messi, drawing both comparisons and aspirations of winning trophies like the Argentine superstar.

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Currently playing at the same club that developed the likes of Erling Haaland and Sadio Mane, Aaronson is a star in the making for the United States, and will be on the move to one of Europe’s top leagues in short order.

Where is Brenden Aaronson from?

Born in Medford, New Jersey, Brenden Aaronson joined the Philadelphia Union academy at age 15.

Known as the “Medford Messi” as a combination of his hometown and attacking midfield role, Aaronson’s nickname was originally a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Argentine great but has transformed into something more than just a silly joke.

While Aaronson initially committed to play collegiately for Indiana, he eventually signed an amateur contract with Bethlehem Steel, now known as Philadelphia II.

Aaronson made his senior debut with Philadelphia early in the 2019 MLS season, starting against Atlanta on March 18 and scoring in a 1-1 draw. He would go on to make 28 appearances that season, scoring three goals and assisting another.

Who does Brenden Aaronson play for?

After spending two years with the senior Philadelphia Union side, Aaronson earned a switch to Austrian club RB Salzburg in January of 2021. A fee of $6 million was paid, and Aaronson made the move to Europe.

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Since then, Aaronson has been a key contributor for the Austrian side. He made 20 appearances last season, scoring five goals and assisting five more as RB Salzburg won the title. His contributions were critical, including two goals in a 3-1 win over third-placed Sturm Graz in the final month, plus a 90-minute performance in a 2-0 win over second-placed Rapid Vienna the next match.

This season, Aaronson has made 20 league appearances, and again has proven vital to the team’s success. Aaronson scored the equalizer in an eventual 2-1 win over Rapid Vienna in February, one of his three goals this season plus another five assists so far.

Aaronson has also contributed to the team’s Champions League success, helping RB Salzburg through Group G and into the knockout stage, where he delivered an assist in the shock 1-1 first-leg draw with Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. He picked up an assist in the second leg too, although the club was soundly beaten 7-1.

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The breakout performances in Europe have caught the eye of Premier League club Leeds United, and multiple reports indicated the club’s attempts to sign Aaronson in the winter were rebuffed, but that an agreement is close for a summer move. Those links only strengthened after Jesse Marsch — an American and former employee of the Red Bull family of clubs — was appointed Leeds manager.

What is Brenden Aaronson’s role with the USMNT?

At just 21 years old, Aaronson has become an integral part of the U.S. national team roster, and his value will only increase in the coming weeks.

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With 18 international caps already to his name, Aaronson has scored five goals for the U.S. national team, providing both width and creativity. His abilities on the ball are clear, but he also has an off-ball knack for making runs and cropping up in the right place at the right time.

The USMNT is not lacking for talent in Aaronson’s role, meaning he has had to earn his spot. With Christian Pulisic a near-lock for the starting lineup, Aaronson has shared time lately with the likes of Gio Reyna, Tim Weah, Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris and Gyasi Zardes, among others.

The youngster scored his first international goal in a 6-0 thrashing of El Salvador in a 2020 friendly, assisting on another goal in the victory. His goal in September of 2021 secured a 1-1 draw with Canada in World Cup qualifying, and he contributed another to the 4-1 win over Honduras just three days later.

With Reyna still struggling with a hamstring injury and Weah in and out of the Lille starting lineup, Aaronson is in position to be a major component in the final U.S. push for a World Cup berth in the March international qualifiers. 

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