Jesse Marsch lauded Brenden Aaronson’s mentality, his maturity, his viel, a German word that translates to will or desire.
And while Aaronson was a little early in his professional development with the Philadelphia Union when Marsch was the head coach of the New York Red Bulls, the now Red Bull Salzburg coach had a first-hand look at someone with similar qualities in Tyler Adams.
Adams has become a regular starter for RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga and an integral part of the US men's national team.
Marsch believes Aaronson, whose transfer to Red Bull Salzburg was made official on Friday, can have a similar trajectory, he said in an extensive interview on Extratime, which will air on Monday.
“I'm sure it's hard for Philadelphia fans to think about losing him next year. But I also think it'll be a lot of fun for them to watch him play in Champions League and Europa League and then in some big matches here in Europe. We think he has a big future, not just here, but beyond."
Marsch said the scouting of Aaronson was a 10-12 month process and when initially asked about the Union’s 19-year-old Homegrown midfielder, he admittedly didn’t have a lot of information from when he was the coach of the Red Bulls.
But he did remember one preseason scrimmage in Florida when the third 45-minute period was largely comprised of academy players from both teams.
“I remember he scored a good goal against us and then I started watching video and I was really impressed with what I saw,” Marsch said.
Viel is the word Salzburg scouting department used when watching Aaronson over the last year and also speaking with him.
“We're really excited to have him here. I think he'll be a really good fit,” Marsch said. “The conversations I've had with Brenden have been really good. He's really mature for a 19-year-old young man, and that's something that I think is always important. When when you talk to these young players and when you get the feel after a 10, 15 minute conversation like you're talking to a grown man, that's always, I think, such a good indicator for the potential of the personality and the player.”
Marsch also said Aaronson perfectly fits the “rule breaker” mentality Salzburg looks for in a player.
“He can run all day, the ground he covers, when he goes to press guys, it's not just because the coach told him that he should be pressing,” Marsch said. “It's that he wants to win the ball. He hunts the ball. He hunts players. He finds ways to always make an effect on a play defensively. And then when he wins balls, he wants to go to goal. He's brave in the way he plays to goal. He's brave in the way he goes into challenges. He's brave in the way he goes into 1v1 situations, how he plays in tight spaces.”
Watch: Best of Aaronson in MLS
Like Adams when Marsch coached him in New York, Aaronson has impressed in his tactical versatility. He’s a natural No. 10, but Marsch can see him fitting multiple roles with Salzburg.
“I think he can play when we play with two 10s. I think he can play in that position,” Marsch said. "Sometimes we play with a number 10 underneath a striker or underneath two strikers. I certainly feel like he can play that way. He's played the 8 sometimes in a diamond with Philadelphia. I think he can do that really well. And I think he's capable of playing a six, especially if he has more defensive minded six playing next to him and he's got a little bit more freedom to move around with and without the ball. So I think the combination of his natural abilities, his intelligence and again, his desire, his desire to be a big part of the game, his desire to have an effect in the game means that if you put him anywhere in the midfield, he's going to do well.”
As for Aaronson’s immediate future, Marsch said he’s already taking German lessons and his future coach challenged Aaronson to stay focused on the immediate task at hand with the Union.
"We want him to finish the year the right way. Certainly the relationship I have with Jim Curtin means that the last thing I'd want to do is put Jim's team in any kind of jeopardy by distracting one of their best players,” Marsch said. "But it hasn't taken much at all. Brenden has been so focused. He's been so disciplined. He's given everything to the group there in Philadelphia. He plays every game and you can see how much heart he pours into every game.”