Aaronson, Monteiro, Przybylko create bright spot in sloppy Union win

As a 10-year-old training in the Philadelphia Union Juniors program, Brenden Aaronson made his first impressions on Union Youth Academy coaches.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Fast forward nine years, and now he’s making major impacts for Philadelphia, gaining praise and recognition throughout Major League Soccer, earning USMNT call-ups, and quietly becoming Philadelphia’s most important player.

“I think that from the start once I came into this team, the coaches have some so much confidence in me and I think that’s come with growing confidence from my teammates and working hard in training and showing them that I have the quality to play on the field,” said Aaronson following a sloppy but gritty 2-1 win over MLS expansion side Inter Miami CF late Tuesday night. “I think that started from the beginning.”

Aaronson was directly involved in both of Philadelphia’s goals Tuesday while also creating a goal for Kacper Przybylko that was unfortunately ruled off-side despite some very close camera angles arguing otherwise.

On a night where the team as a whole played poorly completing only 380 passes with an accuracy of just 74%, Aaronson registered his first assist of 2020 while Przybylko opened up his scoring account. Another positive? Left-back Kai Wagner netted his first MLS goal with a left-footed blast.

But it wasn’t a pretty outing by any stretch for the club. A win is a win, always. But for Philadelphia and Aaronson specifically, the sloppy play is not welcomed.

“It may have been entertaining to watch, but it wasn’t entertaining for us,” said Aaronson post-match.

Head coach Jim Curtin was distinctly unsatisfied with his team’s performance, so much so that you may not have been able to tell if his team won or lost late Tuesday night.

“Not our best night in terms of how we want to play, keeping the ball, playing forward, and winning the transition game,” said Curtin. “In terms of the soccer, not our best, not our sharpest. Maybe it’s the late start. I’m trying to put my finger on it. We weren’t ourselves which was disappointing.”

But at times, fans were able to catch a glimpse of just how dynamic and impactful Philadelphia’s attacking players can be.

Aaronson and fellow creative midfielder Jamiro Monteiro combined very well at times. Their chemistry reached a peak moment when both worked together to spark perhaps the best counter-attacking goal in club history to gain a 2-1 lead in the 63rd.

The sloppy play throughout was alleviated by this move. It was the perfect sequence sparked by Monteiro and his top-level awareness and vision and Aaronson made the most of it. Przybylko was served a chance on a platter and took it with confidence.

“You just see the quality and the movement of Jamiro when he’s leaving the ball between his legs for Brenden, Brenden takes a good touch, and then you see again that Jamiro was so unselfish and left the ball for me so I could finish,” said Przybylko of the goal. “That shows the quality of the team. I’m very proud of them for fighting so hard and for working so hard.”

When Przybylko mentions the “quality” of the team despite a subpar showing overall, he’s referring to the team’s ability to figure out a way to win in otherwise frustrating conditions.

The overall passing accuracy of 74% is worrisome. But even more gloomy was Philadelphia’s passing in the attacking half (62%) and the final third (55%). But with a confident play-maker like Aaronson on the team, those negatives can be erased with brief flashes of brilliance.

Monteiro and Aaronson did just that.

“Me and Jamiro have a good connection like that,” said Aaronson of the beautiful idea from Monteiro to pull not one but two “dummies” in the counter-attacking goal. “I think that he sees a lot of balls that not many midfielders can see. Having the intelligence to just leave that ball right there and see me running with it, I think that’s the kind of player he is. He’s so tricky, so slithery, he’s so good in those kinds of situations. It’s such a pleasure playing with him.”

For Aaronson, the key to his growth has been his uncanny ability to listen and learn. It may seem simple, but for a youngster to take over for a world-class caliber player in Marco Fabian at just 18 or 19 years old while taking on the workload of a volume #10 is nothing sort of impressive. And to do it with the level of confidence is also unmatched.

“To see his growth is something special,” said Curtin. “He’s reached the height of the national team now, but we all want more because he is that special. I am going to continue to be hard on him and he might not like hearing it but I still think he can do better even on a night like tonight. The best feeling you can get is to watch young players get better before your eyes and Brenden has made a big jump but I still think there’s another level that he can go to.”

For now, it seems like the sky is the limit. With players like Ale Bedoya, Monteiro, and Przybylko in the locker room, Aaronson can continue to soak up knowledge like a sponge just like he did when veteran midfielder Haris Medunjanin was with the team last year. He wants to learn, he wants to grow, and he wants to get better. That’s all a coach and a fanbase can ask of their promising young star.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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