Brenden Aaronson competes for the ball at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 1, 2020 in Carson, California.
In joining FC Salzburg of the Austrian Bundesliga, 19-year-old Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson is just the latest young American soccer star hoping to make a big splash playing in Europe.
But Aaronson’s transfer is a record-breaker.
Philadelphia will receive up to $9 million for Aaronson, depending on incentives, which is a record for a U.S.-based Homegrown Player — an MLS player developed within a team’s youth academy and signed by that same team. Aaronson, who will turn 20 on Oct. 22, will join Salzburg in the January transfer window after playing the rest of the season with Philadelphia, which has qualified for the MLS playoffs.
Aaronson will be the lone American player on Salzburg, but the team is coached by Wisconsin native and former MLS manager Jesse Marsch. The midfielder has been a Union regular since 2019, and this season was named to the Best XI at the MLS is Back Tournament as Philadelphia made a run to the semifinals. He made his national team debut in January, starting and playing 66 minutes in a Concacaf Nations League match against Costa Rica.
Having a Homegrown Player command such a large transfer fee is a great sign for both MLS and the U.S. men’s national team. It provides another avenue of development to nurture young players into world-class stars. That, in turn, will only enhance the pool of national team players as the team looks to rebound from missing the World Cup in 2018.
Aaronson’s move to Austria is the latest in a year that has seen many promising young American players sign with European clubs. Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest have moved to two of the world’s biggest clubs in Juventus and Barcelona, respectively, while 17-year-old Gio Reyna is just beginning to make his mark with German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.