When his name sounds out around the Red Bull Arena after a goal, it is music to all our ears: Brenden … Aaronson! The 21-year-old, who knows how to keep his nerve in key moments on the pitch despite his young age, mixes the modern with the classic – also in his musical taste, with his love for everything from Bruce Springsteen to Justin Bieber. He does not come across anywhere near the stereotype of a young footballer. What's his Tiktok account? He doesn't bother with that. Any bling-bling or expensive cars? No chance!
I don't see any reason to buy an expensive car when the club gives me one to use. A lot of players do that, but I don't get it at all. I prefer to save my money. I hardly have any furniture in my apartment, I'm pretty frugal. I don't like spending too much on clothes either. Style has never been so important to me.
There is also a classic response in the US whenever the subject of his current home is raised: The Sound of Music. It is no surprise that his impressions of Salzburg prior to his transfer came mainly from the 1960s musical.
When I saw the movie for the first time as a child, I had no idea where it was filmed. I asked my parents at the time and was very impressed by how beautiful Austria is. As America is on other side of the world, you don't end up knowing too much about Europe. Seeing those kind of images was impressive, and I've always wanted to come here.
It's a great story all around – the way it was shot, the acting and the values it transmits.
Brenden therefore perhaps had high expectations before his move from the East Coast of the US to Salzburg. He was not disappointed when he arrived here in January 2021. Even if the weather was miserable at the time, and all was quiet in the city due to the Covid pandemic, our new signing was brimming with excitement right away.
When I came here, it totally exceeded my expectations! I didn't really know what it would be like to live in a different country. Of course there are differences to my home country, but I felt really happy from the start and am enjoying my time here.
When my girlfriend came to visit, we went together to Lake Fuschl, and that is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. To swim in the crystal-clear water there was just a dream.
I enjoy hiking too, but I suspect I won't become a big hiking enthusiast until I am older. When my girlfriend is here, she always wants to go to a mountain, but I am just too tired after training most of the time or want to relax before a match.
Austria v USA, Salzburg v New Jersey, Anif v Medford. Brenden says there are differences, but they are not always so big as you might expect, which made him feel at home quickly here.
I grew up in the suburbs and really appreciate peace and quiet as a result. Big cities are not for me. I like playing soccer in the garden and relaxing without all the noise or stink. My family live just 30 minutes from the sea in South Jersey, and we often went to the beach. There is nothing better in the summer than being there.
We always played a lot of soccer there - whether one-touch or beach soccer. My brother and I often got really sore ankles. If you didn't catch the ball, you would often whack bones with someone else.
Soccer is what unites the two Aaronson brothers more than anything else, as Brenden's close to three-year younger brother, Paxten, has a similar ability to our midfield maestro. He currently plays - just as his big bro did before his move to Austria – for the MLS's Philadelphia Union, who play around an hour's drive away from the parental home. Brenden does not want to say whether he would like the 18-year-old to join him in Salzburg.
He has huge talent! We have played soccer together our whole lives, and he definitely has a big future ahead of him in the game. Whether that is here or somewhere else, he will definitely follow his own path.
When we are at home, we joke around a lot and spend time together. We play either one v one or do some kind of shooting contest.
We are always competitive, whether with soccer, ping pong or FIFA. That's always the way it was. It was never in a bad way that we didn't want to keep doing it though.
Brenden, who has got used to the term football instead of soccer over here, was practically born with a ball at his feet. Who was his first coach? His father. Was it his only interest? No, he played classic US sports like basketball and baseball, but soccer took over for the 21-year-old.
I have trained with my father for as long as I can remember. I don't know exactly how old I was at the time - perhaps four years old - when I first had a ball at my feet. I tried everything, all the other American sports, but soccer was just my passion. I think that you can see that in the way I play. I always want to have the ball and do something with it.
You soon see, when you spend time with Brenden, that these are not empty words. Even at a photo shoot in Salzburg city centre and the Mirabell Gardens, the Medford Messi is reluctant to ever let the ball out of his hand and likes doing tricks with it. Passers-by are therefore treated to a very special performance from the US international. His personal idol is not from his homeland, however, but from Croatia.
Luka Modric played this incredible cross a few days ago in the Champions League quarter-final. I haven't seen such a magnificent assist in a long time, it was just insane. He and Steven Gerrard were my big role models growing up.
In the USA, you have Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and these days Christian Pulisic as the biggest idols. Soccer is growing there, and there a few heroes already.
Brenden's favourite memories of his time in Salzburg are of a footballing nature – as you might expect. Top of the bunch comes qualifying for the Champions League last 16 with the win v Sevilla. Then there was his first goal for the Red Bulls, which he celebrated with a somersault …
Totally! That was against Austria Vienna. I got the ball on the left edge of the penalty area, shimmied a bit and curled in inside the far post. To my own surprise it went in.
That was our winning goal against FK Austria Vienna at the time. A memory that gives Brenden hope that when we face the side from the Austrian capital again this Sunday, the Salzburg end might once again rock to the Sound of Medford …