Brenden Aaronson was already considered one of the more promising young prospects in MLS, but in his team's wild 3-3 draw against LAFC at Banc of California in Week 2, the 19-year-old Philadelphia Union midfielder provided his best moment yet.
In what wound up as the most riveting match of the young MLS season so far, Aaronson scored the go-ahead goal in the 69th minute, finishing off a feed from teammate Sergio Santos to give the Union a 3-2 lead over the reigning Supporters' Shield champs in their own building. LAFC would strike back for the equalizer, and teammate Jakob Glesnes' 40-yard free kick screamer is the highlight most will remember from the match, but we might well end up remembering the goal from Aaronson as the moment he truly arrived in MLS.
Difficulty of the opponent aside, consider the composure he shows on this play — first to set up Santos for the initial shot, then to receive the ensuing pass off the rebound and have the wherewithal to gather himself, recognize that goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer had started to cheat to his left, and then coolly slide the shot to the opposite side and into the net.
It wasn't just the goal, either. At his press conference on Wednesday, Union head coach Jim Curtin said that he thought the match was Aaronson's all-around best performance in a Philly uniform, adding that it came at an opportune time as Aaronson departed for duty with the US U-23s at 2020 Olympic Qualifying in Mexico City after the match.
"It's something he’s worked very hard on, arranging his feet a little quicker in and around the box but still having the composure to make the right decision and you saw that on the goal," Curtin said. "Brenden had a really, really impressive outing, both offensively and defensively so happy for him to now move on to the Olympic team.
"His performance against LA, I think it was his best game for Philadelphia," the coach added. "There were a lot of scouts in the building, which was a good thing, watching LA, watching some of our guys. So, I think he left a good impression, [with U-23 coach] Jason Kreis as well, with everyone."