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South Jersey native Brenden Aaronson in starting XI for MLS debut in Atlanta

Philadelphia Union Academy alum will get his first taste of MLS in front of a hostile crowd at Mercedez-Benz Stadium

Morgan Tencza

The curtain will officially raise today on Brenden Aaronson’s career in Major League Soccer.

With his star playmaker Marco Fabián out for a red card suspension, head coach Jim Curtin has inserted the 18-year-old from Medford, N.J. into the starting lineup for today’s game against the defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Aaronson was in the 18 for the first two games, but didn’t see the field in either of the Philadelphia Union’s losses to open the season. Aaronson made 21 appearances with Bethlehem Steel FC last season and officially turned pro in September, forgoing his commitment to Indiana University. He’ll graduate from YSC Academy this June.

His ties to the Union date back to his days in the Union Juniors program in the early days of the club and he joined the Philadelphia Union Academy from Real Jersey FC in 2013. He’s received a number of call-ups to U.S. youth international teams and became the first Steel player to be named to the USL Team of the Week while still an amateur player in the academy.

Aaronson isn’t the first player from Medford to feature in MLS, but he’s the first since Stephen King came off the bench for D.C. United on May 9, 2012. Brenden was 11 at the time. Jeff Zaun from the neighboring Medford Lakes was a MetroStars (New York Red Bulls) original and played four seasons in MLS.

UPDATE: Aaronson couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to start his MLS career.