Before Brenden Aaronson starred for the Philadelphia Union, before making the leap to RB Leipzig and becoming a US men’s national team regular, he was rising through the Union’s ranks with the club’s USL squad – then Bethlehem Steel – when Chris Albright said the winger was ready to make the leap to MLS.

“That’s what I’ve heard, and I think Ernst [Tanner, Union sporting director] was too at the time,” Aaronson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “[Chris] was a big believer in me and when I was doing really well with the USL team in Bethlehem. That was the part where he saw me and thought I was ready for this next step, so I owe a lot to him.”

Aaronson and Albright are both in Cincinnati now – Aaronson with the USMNT ahead of a massive World Cup qualifier against Mexico Friday (9:10 pm ET | ESPN2, Univision, TUDN) at TQL Stadium, while Albright was hired last month as FC Cincinnati's new general manager.

Aaronson backed Albright, who was the Union's technical director, in his new role.

"Just a great guy. A guy that will give his all for FC Cincinnati," Aaronson said. "I know that this club has had a little bit of a rough start, but I think that him being here will help out a lot. He has a lot of football ideas and he’s gonna help a ton. He’s an amazing guy. He did so much for the Union.”

Chris Albright - FC Cincinnati announcement

Albright oversaw the development, integration and eventual transfer of homegrown stars Aaronson and Mark McKenzie and aided Tanner in constructing the 2020 Supporters’ Shield-winning side.

Albright is Cincy's third full-time GM and takes over after the club parted ways with Gerard Nijkamp in the summer.

FC Cincinnati finished last in MLS for a third consecutive season in 2021. But Aaronson sees a bright future with Albright in charge.

"He’s gonna bring everything I mentioned to FC Cincinnati. I think you guys are in really good hands," Aaronson said. "You’ve gotta give it a little bit of time because he needs to make the transfers that he wants. He needs support, he needs to bring in his plan and everything like that but I already know the club has a fantastic fan base and that’s what you need."