If there was much doubt whether Brenden Aaronson would not be in the starting lineup against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin seemed to put it to rest in his weekly press conference on Wednesday.
“He’s been a guy that as a coach you can’t take off the field,” Curtin said. “He’s dominated games in Atlanta, against Columbus and some moments against Dallas. He just has left a really big impact and kind of is proof that too much in this country we get caught up in size and physicality when really it’s soccer IQ and knowing what to do and when to do it on the field and by the way he also runs and covers more ground than anybody so you can do both.”
The 18-year-old from Medford scored a goal in his MLS debut in Atlanta in the third week of the season after being in the 18 the first two games and really hasn’t looked back since. After getting the first point of the season on a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United, the team has won three straight with Aaronson in the starting lineup.
“He’s been playing at a really high level and a level that our staff can’t even think about taking him out of games and off the field and out of the lineup,” Curtin said. “Often times in a professional’s career you get opportunity and you have to grab a hold of it; it’s cliche but Brenden has done that for us and I think it’s powerful too for kids in our academy to see that he’s on the field and impacting games.”
Barring injury, Aaronson lining up in the midfield against the Galaxy will likely mean Jamiro Monteiro will again be on the bench to start the game, which while being less than ideal for a player on a six-month loan from FC Metz (there is an option to extend the loan and also one to purchase the player) has worked pretty nicely the past couple weeks.
The 25-year-old Cape Verde international helped close out the clean sheet in a 19-minute shift against Cincinnati and triggered the comeback against FC Dallas with a rocketed shot that ended up leading to the penalty and equalizer by Cory Burke off the saved penalty.