At the start of the season, MLSSoccer’s Matt Doyle listed the Union in his Open Questions tier of MLS clubs. The big question: How would a 19-year old perform as a defensive anchor for what would need to be a reasonably strong defense? “Auston Trusty looks locked in as a starter at center back, and there just aren't a ton of 19-year-old center backs who've ever played well in MLS.”
Both halves of that sentence were true at the time, and they highlight just how good Philadelphia’s homegrown defender has been in 2018. Going into the final three matches of the season, Trusty has played every MLS minute in a defense that is in the top ten in the league in Expected Goals Against. He has scored, he has defended, he has grown into a back line leader.
Perhaps most impressively, Auston Trusty has done this all under incredible scrutiny. He was installed as a starter from the opening match of the season, thrown into the deep end in place of the vastly more experienced Oguchi Onyewu, who held down the left center back position for much of 2017. Trusty has remained the rock in the back line as the pieces around him have changed. From Fabinho to Matt Real to Ray Gaddis on his left; from Jack Elliott to Mark McKenzie and back to Elliott to his right.
The exciting part about following the young defender’s journey this season is that it has not all been butterflies and rainbows. When Trusty has struggled, his head coach has called him out, and said that he can do so because he believes so strongly in his teenaged charge. The valleys have not been wide, and each time there has been a poor performance there has been improvement on the horizon.
There will be more ups and downs in Auston Trusty’s career, but when the 2019 Union take the pitch the 20-year old’s inclusion will not be the source of any open questions; those have all been answered.
There are still not a ton of young, inexperienced center backs who have ever played well in MLS. But Auston Trusty has. And he is. And he will.