If you read the tea leaves, you knew something special was happening. The Union signed Brenden Aaronson to a homegrown contract that added him to the roster at the start of 2019, and even though the teenager looked like he hit maturity moments before signing, the club believed he was ready to contribute.
Aaronson played with Bethlehem Steel throughout 2018, and captain James Chambers thought he was “different.” Aaronosn also played with the Union academy, and when he faced off against the Red Bulls’ U19s in Talen Energy Stadium, he controlled the match.
Light, quick — but not speedy — and intelligent. It was a combo that could get crushed by MLS vets… or one that could outthink even the most experienced.
Coming in at No. 7 in the 2019 MLS 22 Under 22, it’s clear that Brenden Aaronson took on the best the league had to offer and is ready for more.
He is the highest ranked Union player ever on this list, and it’s a deserved honor. Not only did he take and hold on to a starting role that a Mexican international also wanted, but he harried opponents fearlessly and endlessly. Aaronson’s defensive work became a cornerstone of Philly’s defensive pressure that turned teams over deep in their own end. An attacker was never truly clear of Aaronson, and the teenager’s all-action attitude dovetailed perfectly with Jim Curtin’s substitution pattern. Run til you drop, then let Ilsinho do the rest.
Aaronson still has more to offer. At the end of the year, the coaching staff and Ernst Tanner talked about refining his finishing ability and finding ways to create space and chances in the box. The player himself echoed those aims, and if last year was a good indicator, he will dedicate himself to them with an energy few can match.
He’s from Medford, NJ and has been a Union fan his whole life. But now Aaronson is becoming more: A symbol of Philly’s development process come good, and one of the best young players in America.