Philadelphia Union homegrown talent Paxten Aaronson is “going to be special”, according to head coach Jim Curtin.
The younger brother of USMNT international Brenden – who joined RB Salzburg from Philadelphia back in January – Paxten has followed in his sibling’s footsteps, rising through the ranks at the Union.
Having already scored a stunning goal against the New England Revolution earlier in the season, Aaronson proved the difference in the Union’s 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday, heading home the winner in just his ninth MLS appearance of the season.
The 18-year-old also created three chances and made as many tackles in a mature performance well beyond his years. Speaking to reporters after the match (via MLSsoccer.com), Curtin believes we should come to expect more of this from Aaronson in years to come.
“Paxten is going to be really special,” he said.
“Obviously there’s good genetics in the family for sure, but his ability to be comfortable in a big game on the road in a hostile environment and want the ball and want to be in part of the big moment and still be running and pressing in the 90th minute to help his team out to get a victory, he’s way beyond his years and his experience. He’s been incredible this season.”
Given he stands at just 5ft 7″, few would expect Aaronson to find the net via his head. Especially given his piledriver against the Revs in August.
But the teenager’s intelligence and movement allowed him to get in-between two Cincinnati defenders undetected at the far post, before heading the ball into the ground to make it difficult for Przemysław Tytoń to keep it out, despite getting a hand to it.
Curtin praised Aaronson and his fellow homegrowns for finding “unique” solutions on a tough night in Ohio.
“Probably nobody in the world had Paxten Aaronson getting a header to win the game, but that’s what we needed tonight. It was unique,” he added. “I think we changed formation four different times, but no matter what was thrown at our guys from the technical staff to whatever Cincinnati threw at us, they stepped up and rose to the occasion and picked up a very big three points.”
The Union are now six points clear of Atlanta United just below the playoff line and although the Eastern Conference remains close, the aim now is to secure a home tie in the post-season.
“It gives us a little bit of space with that being our game in hand now we’ve created a little bit of separation,” Curtin said of Saturday’s win, adding: “But still lots to play for. No question, now we want to push for a home game at Subaru Park.”
Up next for Philadelphia is a trip to CF Montreal on Saturday, with the Canadian side currently occupying seventh in the East.