Brenden Aaronson desperate to lead Philadelphia Union to first-ever trophy

Kacper Przybylko, Ilsinho, Brenden Aaronson - celebration - PHIvDC

With his impending move to RB Salzburg now official, Brenden Aaronson's future is sorted. But for the present, he is still focused on the Philadelphia Union.

Aaronson will join Salzburg after the Union season, of which is going quite well both individually and on a team level. The midfielder, who turns 20 next week, has started all 18 of the Union's game as his side sits second place in the Eastern Conference, trailing Supporters' Shield leaders Toronto FC by just three points. With five games remaining in this truncated 2020 season, the Union are in the hunt for their first-ever trophy. 

It'd be the perfect way for Aaronson to depart. 

“As a group, we’ve had one goal this year: To win a trophy," Aaronson told reports on a virtual press conference Friday. "This is something I’ve wanted for the club for a long time. It’s really in me to try and win something. I hope you can see it every game, I feel like I come out and want to win something for this club. I give my all for this club, I will continue to give my all for the rest of the season. I promise you that. This club means something special to me. Hopefully we can win something, we have a good chance of doing that.”

Aaronson has four goals and a team-best five assists in regular-season play this season, an integral cog of the Union's success. 

“Brenden wants to win a trophy with this club," head coach Jim Curtin said. "It’s as simple as that. He wants to leave the right way.”

When Aaronson heads to Salzburg this winter, it'll be the realization of a dream. Sporting director Ernst Tanner said that Aaronson communicated with the club that he would prefer a move to Salzburg while multiple European teams were interested in his signature. 

“We have only pros, there are no cons in this transfer," Tanner said. "That’s not always the fact. … Their playing style is very similar to what we’re doing here and they are doing a great job of integrating young players from all over the world. ... The fee shows Salzburg’s appreciation of the player. There are a lot of reasons why they went for Brenden, they’ve observed him for quite some time. With his ability, he’s definitely a great fit for their philosophy and style.”

Aaronson has talked a bit with his soon-to-be head coach Jesse Marsch, mostly about how he'll fit in the club and how he'll enjoy the city. The former New York Red Bulls boss moved to RB Leipzig as an assistant coach in 2018 before taking over as Salzburg head coach in 2019. He won the Austrian league title and domestic cup in his first season in charge, despite the club transferring key players Erling Haaland (to Borussia Dortmund) and Takumi Minamino (to Liverpool) halfway through the year. 

“Brenden will go into very good hands with Jesse Marsch," Curtin said. "He’ll push Brenden and make him better at an exceptional club. This is just the beginning for Brenden.”

Curtin and Marsch played together in MLS for several years at both Chicago Fire FC and Chivas USA. They maintain a very close relationship to this day. 

“Salzburg is a perfect fit for me because of the way they play and they have an amazing coach too," Aaronson added. "They play a 4-2-2-2, I’ve been told I’ll probably slide in as one of the No. 10’s. I think that formation fits me well and the whole dynamic of how they want to play: Pressing, constantly playing forward. That fits my style of play.”

Until then, Aaronson will continue the Union's chase for their first-ever trophy.

“It was my goal to finish the season with the Union," Aaronson said. "We have big aspirations. We’re looking to win two trophies this year.”