In 2018, the MLS Rookie of the Year was a striker with five goals and four assists in over 2100 minutes. Brenden Aaronson is a midfielder, yet he still collected three goals and two assists in nearly 400 fewer minutes.
Yeah, Philly’s homegrown creator deserves to be a finalist for the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year.
Aaronson was expected to work his way into some substitute appearances this season. Learn from Marco Fabian’s offensive instincts, pick up tips from Jamiro Monteiro on how to approach tackles, figure out how to match Ale Bedoya’s intensity and freakish on-field intellect, soak up every single bit of advice from Haris Medunjanin.
The kid wasn’t prepared to wait. A red card to Fabian, along with niggling injuries to both the Mexican international and Jamiro Monteiro gave Aaronson a stage, and he shined on it. In Atlanta he embarrassed Brad Guzan, then he did it again when the American goalie came to Philly.
LAFC — and nearly everyone else — got physical with him. At times, it worked: Aaronson was left on his knees, arms in the air, asking for a foul. But it never, ever changed his game. Moments later, he would be popping into holes, asking for the ball, then scooting into a new gap.
This has always been the book on Brenden Aaronson: He’s too small, too slight, not athletic enough to wade into the middle of a chaotic MLS midfield.
Playing for Bethlehem Steel last year, Aaronson had opponents literally break his collarbone and elbow him in the head as he released assists. He always knew it was coming; he never backed down.
This is what Medunjanin and others point to in Aaronson: An almost impossible fearlessness borne of a singular focus on something more important than fear.
Brenden Aaronson came to MLS to win. Every tackle, every duel, every game.
And he’s ready to win MLS Rookie of the Year, too.