close to three months after signing, he is finally here! winter signing Brenden Aaronson has landed just before we return to training in salzburg and is brimming with anticipation.
Moving to Europe is the latest thrilling milestone in the 20-year-old's young career - with a national team debut, a first goal for his country, winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield with Philadelphia Union and being nominated for the MLS Team of the Season – a top talent with great promise has joined us.
In his first interview after his arrival, the midfield all-rounder speaks about his motivation and great ambitions.
Welcome to Salzburg, Brenden! First of all, how was the journey?
"The flight was seven hours and I slept five hours of it. So it went pretty quick for me. I was just chilling. Jesse picked me up. Getting to see the city was awesome. I’m excited to get started!"
How does it feel to finally be here?
"Great! It has been a bit of a process because I still needed to finish my season with the Philadelphia Union. I was wanting to get here for a pretty long time. Now I’m here. Hopefully I can play with the team soon and get on the field and show what I can do."
What are your first impressions of Salzburg?
"Very good, a beautiful city. I saw the castle, the shopping area and a little of the architecture and generally how beautiful the city is. I’m excited to see more of it and to get to know it."
Can you tell us what encouraged you to move to Salzburg?
"Just the club in general. When I heard that Salzburg were interested I thought that it would be really eye-opening for me. It was a club that kind of stood out to me. I can see myself being part of the philosophy of football here. Salzburg play fast, direct and attacking football. That’s what I like to do, and I think that this just fits my profile really well. I wanted to join a club where I think I can come in and do well. I want to work day in, day out and improve day in, day out."
You are joining a young squad, and you're only 20 yourself. How excited are you to grow with this young team?
"I can’t wait to get to know the group, hopefully find some friends and just get out on the soccer field."
How would you describe your style of play to a Salzburg fan who hasn’t seen you play yet?
"A lot of creative work. I work hard, I’m aggressive, I like to pick holes in defences and provide assists."
Do you have an idol you looked up to when you were younger?
"My favourite player growing up was Steven Gerrard. I’m a big Liverpool Fan and watching him winning the Champions League and all the other stuff was huge for me."
We usually play in a 4-2-2-2 formation or a 4-4-2 with diamond midfield. Which position do you prefer in these formations?
"In the 4-2-2-2 I can play as one of the number tens or the two deeper midfielders. It doesn’t really matter to me. Wherever Jesse sees me playing, it’ll be fine. Whenever I can get on the field I’ll do my best. I played at the Union as the highest midfielder in a diamond formation. I can also play as one of the two in the middle though."
You will wear the number 11 shirt – why that number? Does it mean something to you?
"Not really. I like the number and it was available. I was like, I’ll take eleven because I was number 22 in Philadelphia. My favourite number is 7 because my dad always had me wearing 7 at a young age but 11 is a great number and I’m happy to wear it."
For you personally, what are your ambitions in the game and what do you hope to achieve?
"I always have high expectations for myself. I want to focus all my energy and my time here. I’m going to work hard day in, day out to win titles and championships. It’s just winning at all costs for me. I also look forward to playing in the Champions League and Europa League."
How much are you looking forward to working with Jesse Marsch and how do you think he will influence your game to help you improve more?
"I’m extremely excited to be a player under him. You can see what he’s done with young players over the years. I’m just truly excited. He’s a great guy and I hope I can keep developing under him."
In Philadelphia you were a crowd pleaser. Will they still support you when you are over here?
"Any kind of support is really awesome for me. I really love that. I think the people back home and the Union fans will still follow me and I’m truly grateful for that."
Last question - have you already started looking for an apartment in Salzburg? When are you going to start looking for it?
"I was looking online before arriving but I think it’s the smarter thing for me to come here and live in a hotel for a week and a half and go looking places myself. My family will probably come in two weeks or so. They will help me – also to find furniture and all that kind of stuff."
Thank you for the interview, Brenden! All the best! We hope you have a good start with us!