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.”
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."