MLS Exports

Brenden Aaronson shines in Leeds United, Premier League debut

What a Premier League debut for Brenden Aaronson.

The Philadelphia Union homegrown export and US men’s national team attacker made a memorable first impression as Leeds United’s 2022-23 season got underway Saturday against Wolverhampton Wanderers, helping create both their goals in a 2-1 victory at Elland Road.

The 21-year-old’s high pressure jumpstarted a 24th-minute equalizer Rodrigo lashed home, then he was at the heart of Leeds’ 78th-minute winner that was ultimately credited as an own goal by Rayan Aït-Nouri. On the latter, Aaronson’s central run led to the Wolves defender bundling Patrick Bamford’s cross into his own net.

Aaronson played 84 minutes before being subbed off for Crysencio Summerville.

Aaronson’s debut came alongside two other MLS alums in the starting XI: USMNT midfielder and New York Red Bulls homegrown product Tyler Adams, as well as former New York City FC winger Jack Harrison. Their squad, of course, is managed by former RBNY and CF Montréal head coach Jesse Marsch, who joined in February of the 2021-22 campaign and helped stave off relegation to the Championship.

Aaronson has competed in Europe since the winter of 2021, when he moved from Philadelphia to Austrian Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg, playing under Marsch and winning two league and cup titles each. He then earned a $30 million transfer to Leeds United, impressing in preseason and becoming an important piece of their nascent EPL campaign.

Between Aaronson’s initial move to Salzburg and the Leeds transfer, Philadelphia pocketed $14 million for their academy-developed star. During two seasons with the Union, he scored seven goals and recorded nine assists across 51 matches (48 starts), helping them lift the 2020 MLS Supporters’ Shield title.

Aaronson projects as a key USMNT player at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, where they’ll compete in Group B alongside England, Iran and Wales. The Medford, New Jersey native has six goals in 22 caps.