Paxten Aaronson on his new team, Eintracht Frankfurt: “If I’m proving myself day-in and day-out in training, I think I can take it as far but of course it’s going to take me some time to adapt to get used to the new tactics, tactics off the field stuff, living alone moving out there.” (USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Paxten Aaronson experienced a whirlwind 2022.

And it looks like what transpired last year is spilling into the new year.

Not that the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder is complaining.

Let’s take a quick look at Aaronson’s rapid ascent in soccer.

He was the vital member of the U.S. Under-20 men’s national Team that captured the Concacaf U-20 Championship side that qualified for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and booked a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Reaching the Summer Games ended a 16-year drought for the Americans.

He scored a tournament-high seven goals – five in the final two matches – and was named the competition’s best player. After recording a brace in the 2-0 semifinal win over Costa Rica, the 19-year-old midfielder scored the first goal in a 3-0 win over Honduras in the final.

On Nov. 5, Aaronson played 36 minutes for runner-up Philadelphia Union against Los Angeles FC in the MLS Cup final.

The Medford, N.J. native was transferred to Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga on Nov. 17, following in his older brother Brenden’s footsteps to Europe. Brenden, who recently performed for the USA at the World Cup, earns his paycheck with Leeds United in the English Premier League.

This week Paxton could take another step that his older sibling took a few years ago by playing for the USMNT in an international friendly against Serbia on Wednesday night and/or Colombia on Saturday night.

Whew!

Rapid ascent, indeed.

While he wants to earn a spot on Eintracht – the team is in second in the Bundesliga table with a 9-4-3 mark and 30 points, trailing powerhouse Bayern Munich (10-1-5, 35) and an opportunity to play in next year’s UEFA Champions League – it’s not every day a player gets an opportunity to earn his first cap.

Head coach Oliver Glasner did not have a problem with the 19-year-old midfielder missing a week of training to play with his national team. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“He was just super excited for me, super thrilled for me,” Aaronson said during a Monday press conference and Zoom call with the media. “He thought it would be a great opportunity for me to especially to get my first senior team call-up. We spoke about it with the club and they thought it was the right moment, the right time for me to come here. They were of course, super excited for me because I knew how much of a honor and mean for me.”

Of course, Aaronson has been given a little preview over the past several years. Since making his debut in 2020, Brenden has been a member of the USMNT and has made 28 appearances, scoring six goals. The brothers talk regularly, and Paxten said they were going to use FaceTime for a little talk later in the day.

Asked if he was given any advice from Brenden, Paxten replied, “He just always says go into these camps with the mindset of trying to impress the most you can. This camp is special particularly because you train three days, game, train three days game. So, you have to get the most out of every opportunity. My brother always says the same: Just come in and work as hard as you can and by the end of it leave here with a with a really good impression.”

If he impresses the coaching staff, there could be good things ahead, such as making the U.S. squad for this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup. The USMNT traditionally uses players who don’t play regularly for the national team in that competition, which would be a great springboard for a player such as Paxten.

“I think of course, that’s an honor for me, and that would be a big accomplishment for me,” he said.

In recent years, Gold Cup matches have been held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which is pretty close to Aaronson’s home in Medford,

“If it does still happens to be played close to my hometown, that would be a true honor because there’s so many familiar faces back home, my family members, friends,” he said. “I know they’re also supportive of me. So it’d be it’d be a true honor for me to do that.”

The rest of the year is to prove himself to his new club.

“If I’m proving myself day-in and day-out in training, I think I can take it as far but of course it’s going to take me some time to adapt to get used to the new tactics, tactics off the field stuff, living alone moving out there,” he said.

He recently trained with the team during the winter break in Dubai before the league resumed play this past weekend.

Aaronson hasn’t had much time to experience Eintracht  – yet.

“Actually, I have only been there for like four days,” he said. “I was staying in the hotel, but I walked all around the city. It’s a beautiful city, but I’m looking forward to going back and kind of making it my home with my apartment and everything.”

As for Aaronson’s decision to join Eintracht, it sounded like a slam-dunk move from the start.

It seemed the Bundesliga club make him an offer that he couldn’t refuse – in a good way, that is. It wasn’t for the money, but for an opportunity to grow as a player.

“When a club like Eintracht comes to you with a real plan and some identity for me is kind of what hooked me,” he said. “They came to me with a true plan and a plan to set me up for success. They weren’t just buying me to buy me. They really do have a true plan and I fit into their system, the style they want to play and that immediately caught my eye.

“Of course, when a team like that [is] … in the Champions League in comes in into play. It obviously turned a switch on my head. I wanted to go there and take that next step in my career. It was a it was a yes from the start. It was a no brainer.”