Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie have now both featured for their new European teams. Aaronson at Red Bull Salzburg and McKenzie at Genk are easing their way into life in a new country. Both were brought in to compete for playing time, and while we may not see them become instant starters, one thing is clear. Aaronson and McKenzie will be essential pieces for their new clubs in their fights for the top spot in their respective leagues and for 2022 Champions League qualification.
Aaronson and McKenzie will play key roles
Both of the former Union homegrowns will play a key role in their squads’ efforts toward wining their leagues and competing in/qualifying for European tournaments.
Since Aaronson and McKenzie are still getting acclimated to their new teams and how they play, the fact that they both have been able to get starts and substitute appearances in their first few games shows these team’s intentions to play these up-and-coming stars. They’ll want to see that intent paid off by the player’s efforts resulting in wins.
RB Salzburg and Brenden Aaronson sit in first place in the Austrian Bundesliga just one point ahead of SK Rapid Wien.
KRC Genk and Mark McKenzie are in second place in the Belgian Pro League nine points behind Club Brugge KC.
Both teams are in prime positions to hold onto or push to that top spot. Aaronson and McKenzie will play key roles because of the congested schedules for Salzburg and Genk.
Game congestion could mean more important minutes
Today (Jan. 27) Brenden Aaronson got his first start for Salzburg. He went 63 minutes and tallied his first assist in a 3-0 win over SV Ried. This came after a 23-minute substitute appearance in the previous match, a 2-0 win over SC Rheindorf Altach. Aaronson has logged 86 minutes over his first two matches for Salzburg.
With eight games in the coming month for Salzburg, including a two-leg Europa League round of 32 against Spain’s Villarreal CF, Brenden will likely be involved even more. His impressive first few games are only the starting point for him. He’ll get a chance to show his value in this congested period moving forward. As will his former teammate Mark McKenzie.
McKenzie featured in Genk’s game today (Jan. 27) coming on in the 68th minute. Late on in the match, it looked like McKenzie conceded a penalty, but it was actually his counterpart Cuesta. In the end, Genk did win 3-2 over S.V. Zulte Waregem. This came after his first start over the past weekend, a 3-2 loss to Club Brugge KC.
Mark has the ability to be a great center back, and his teams’ shaky play at the start of Genk career is all part of the growing pains of joining a new club. He’ll have to have a short memory as Genk has seven matches over the next month’s worth of time. Their use of three center backs means more opportunities! If Mark, and Brenden, take these opportunities that are in front of them, there’s no telling how high their value can rise!
Development progression in European feeder teams
Salzburg and Genk have amazing track records of selling off young talented players once their value rises. It not unreasonable to think that they have plans to do this with Aaronson and McKenzie. This upcoming playing time that both could see presents that first opportunity to ball out and raise their value.
Both players have the opportunity ahead of them right now. While they may not start from the jump, the minutes they do get are amplified because of the clubs they are with. If they both can take the same approach they had in Philadelphia, then they could see their values skyrocket, and transfers to even bigger clubs. For both former Union players, they will make themselves essential to help their teams and to launch their careers even further. The future is now for Aaronson and McKenzie!
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union and other soccer content!
Follow our Union team on Twitter:
Doop on Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire