Leeds United signing Brenden Aaronson shines for USMNT in first game since move
New Leeds United signing Brenden Aaronson shined on his first outing since his move to the club from Red Bull Salzburg in May.
He started for the USA in a 3-0 friendly win over Morocco and opened the scoring while playing in a new role more akin to his club position.
He took a lay-off from Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic in the 26th minute to put his side ahead, before goals from Timothy Weah and Haji Wright, in a game where potential Whites target Tyler Adams also started.
The 21-year-old’s switch from a wide position into a more central midfield role allowed him to be heavily involved, with the goal called “the perfect encapsulation of the potential of Aaronson playing off Christian Pulisic” by USA Today’s Pro Soccer Wire.
The Sporting News‘ Kyle Bonn called the hybrid role the new United player was given “a masterstroke” and was effusive in his praise on Twitter as well, writing: “Brenden Aaronson or Kevin de Bruyne? Couldn’t tell the difference.
“Fabulous performance by the new Leeds man as a #8/#10 hybrid role. Extremely creative, covered a ton of ground, got a goal.
“Wonderful experiment by [Gregg] Berhalter, promising for the USMNT”.
In a discussion between sportswriters Nate Scott and Ryan Rosenblatt on Twitter the former highlighted the midfielder’s nuisance factor, writing: “aaronson’s stats crack me up bc he’s average at everything but when it comes to “being a pest” — pressures, attacking third interceptions, attacking third tackles— he’s freaking world class. like the messi of being annoying on a soccer field”.
The latter suggested Aaronson is a far better international player and wrote in the same thread that the ex-Salzburg man is “great for [USA] and just pretty good elsewhere and every fan at every foreign club he plays for does not understand why we love him”, which may come as a surprise to Whites fans who have been desperate for him for the last six months.
He clearly has quality otherwise Victor Orta wouldn’t have spent the whole of January fruitlessly chasing him and then still returned this summer to finish the job.
But it is encouraging to see him perform at a high level immediately after the move and fans will be looking forward to seeing him play in a United shirt as soon as possible.
The fact that he operated so effectively in the attacking midfield sort of role that Salzburg used him in and where Jesse Marsch is likely to prefer him is obviously a good sign.
The suggestion that he’s not even that good at club level is potentially both positive and negative news for Leeds fans, since it would be frustrating if he turned out to be one of those players who never reaches the same heights at Elland Road as he does for his country.
It seems unlikely that the sort of dynamic that has coloured the latter years of Gareth Bale’s time at Real Madrid will occur though since his performances in Austria are more what the Elland Road scouting operation was based on, and of course Marsch’s first-hand knowledge from there is relevant.
If anything it is probably good news that there are higher levels for him to reach if he can translate his apparently exceptional international form into club level, so perhaps fans at United will understand why his national supporters love him so much.