BERLIN (AP) — Union Berlin is looking to a fresh-faced kid from Medford, New Jersey, for experience as the German club embarks on its first ever Champions League season.
United States midfielder Brenden Aaronson will be one of the few Union players to have played in European soccer’s most important club competition when the group stage starts in September.
The 22-year-old Aaronson, who joined Union on loan from relegated Leeds in the offseason, already has been asked by teammates about the competition.
“I told them how special it is,” said Aaronson, who helped Austrian team Salzburg qualify for the 2021-22 Champions League, where it surprised many by reaching the knockout stages — a feat Union is hoping to emulate.
“I’ll be willing to take that leadership role, and tell the guys not to worry that much because I was kind of in the same situation with Salzburg, kind of the underdogs,” Aaronson said this week. “That’s the kind of mentality we have to have going into the Champions League.”
Union has thrived as an underdog since it earned its first promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019. But even so, qualifying for the Champions League by finishing fourth in Germany was a surprise.
It has prompted a flurry of transfer activity at the club, which also signed Germany international Robin Gosens in a club-record deal on Tuesday. Gosens played in the Champions League final for Inter Milan last season.
Aaronson, a member of last year’s U.S. World Cup team who has 32 international appearances, said playing in the Champions League was “a bonus” and that he had been looking at the overall picture when he joined Union.
Source : apnews