WASHINGTON – Arsenal FC’s 5-0 dispatching of the MLS All-Stars was the ruthless, clinical display of an ascendant side with Premier League and UEFA Champions League glory on their minds. Yet Auston Trusty said afterwards that it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Mikel Arteta’s team.
“The goals we scored tonight are all beautiful goals. But there's a lot more that we can do, which is really awesome to see,” the Philadelphia Union homegrown product told reporters at Audi Field. “We're happy with the result, but I think we felt like we could have played better in some situations.
“You’re winning 5-0 and you think you can do better is a great mentality to have. The quality of the team, it's some of the best players in the entire world. So to be part of this team, to be in this environment day by day, for all the players, you get better every single day.”
Trusty played his part on Wednesday, logging 10-plus minutes off the bench in the second half, and grabbed a bigger share of the spotlight during Tuesday’s MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G, where he nailed the winning shot in the Crossbar Challenge presented by GilletteLabs to cap Arsenal’s overall victory.
No place like home
It was a fitting storyline for one of the two Yanks on the squad that the club brought to the United States for this preseason tour (goalkeeper Matt Turner was given time off after a summer packed with international duty for the US men’s national team).
“That's what my teammates and my family were saying to me, like, it had to be me,” said Trusty with a smile on Wednesday night. “I didn't know I was doing that drill until they called it out and they said, ‘Trusty, come on.’ So it's probably better that I didn't know and then I wasn't thinking, I was just hitting it. But yeah, that was pretty cool.”
With his hometown just a couple of hours up Interstate 95, Trusty had a multitude of family members on hand for both nights. While his parents got to cross the Atlantic to watch him play in England last season, many other loved ones haven’t had the chance since he was in MLS.
“My girlfriend was here, her dad was here, my cousins and my second cousins were here, too,” said Trusty. “It's practically a home game for me, Philadelphia is only about an hour and 45, two hours away, depending on traffic. So they’re making the trip and they’re making the trip to New York, too [Arsenal meet Manchester United in a friendly at MetLife Stadium on Saturday]. So it's been awesome for them to see me wearing this badge and in this position, and in the States.”
More work to do
Trusty is in the midst of his first preseason with the Gunners, working hard to prove he can contribute amid ferocious competition across the roster. The US international center back signed with AFC a year and a half ago but has spent that time out on loan, first staying with the Colorado Rapids for the first half of the 2022 MLS campaign, then joining Birmingham City on loan, where he was voted Player of the Season by supporters after an excellent campaign in the English Championship (second division).
His future isn’t entirely clear. Given the depth and expense of defensive options available to Arteta, another loan move could soon materialize in order to find regular playing time. Right now, he’s not looking any further than the daily challenge of showing he belongs in north London.
“Playing overseas and coming to MLS and All-Star Week, All-Star Game, it's awesome, awesome to see friends who are playing on the opposite team,” said the twice-capped USMNTer. “On the other side, it's being focused and taking it day by day and proving myself to the coaching staff and my teammates. You know, I'm still new to the team.
“I'm not necessarily focused on any of that,” he said of the possibility of a loan. “I'm here now and I take it day by day and I'll just go to training and do my job, and any opportunity, I’ve got to come here and do my job.”
Just being in the mix at an elite club like Arsenal, last year’s EPL runners-up, is a milestone for the 24-year-old from Media, Pennsylvania. As hungry as he is to make another step forward in his career as quickly as possible, the magnitude of his progress to this point is not lost on him.
“It's been a grind, you know? But I think no matter what, as a player, as a person throughout life, you have to back yourself and you have to back to your ability and believe in yourself,” said Trusty. “I did it the entire time, from Philadelphia to Colorado to now. I back myself and I believe in my play, I believe in my abilities and I believe in what I can do in the future.
“It just gets better and better, and you have to get more focused the higher you go. But it's been awesome and it's such a blessing. I'm so honored to be in this position.”