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Medford’s Brenden Aaronson had a ‘wow moment’ when he first practiced with the Union. Now he fits right in.

After rising through the Union's youth ranks since starting as a 10-year-old, Brenden Aaronson got right into the middle of an intense training session for the first time since signing his first pro contract.

Brenden Aaronson, a 17-year-old Medford native, met with the media after signing his first professional contract with the Philadelphia Union.
Brenden Aaronson, a 17-year-old Medford native, met with the media after signing his first professional contract with the Philadelphia Union.Read moreJonathan Tannenwald / Staff

The dream became reality on Monday for Brenden Aaronson. After rising through the Union's youth ranks since starting as a 10-year-old, the now-17-year-old Medford native got right into the middle of an intense training session for the first time since signing his first pro contract.

It was not, however, the first time Aaronson had trained with the senior squad. He's done that quite a few times this year, going back to when manager Jim Curtin invited Aaronson to join the team at a preseason camp in Florida.

"You're seeing all these guys that you watch on TV — you saw [Alejandro] Bedoya play in the [2014] World Cup," Aaronson said after Monday's practice. "There's really a 'wow' moment at first, but then once you keep training, it's like, 'Oh yeah, I can play with these guys.' "

He sure can, which is why the Union signed him to a pre-contract for the 2019 season a few weeks before his 18th birthday. Aaronson is a midfield playmaker with creative skills that are all too rare among American prospects. And as with so many other Union academy products, there was interest in Aaronson from European clubs.

Aaronson's predecessors in the academy served as inspiration, especially fellow creator Anthony Fontana. While Aaronson trained with the Bethlehem Steel, he watched Fontana and others from the next field over at the Union's training facility outside Talen Energy Stadium. They were just a few feet away, but the distance was symbolic.

"You just want to be where they are," Aaronson said. "Seeing them every single day and seeing them train here, because you're with Steel, you just want to be in their position. So it just pushes you and pushes you."

So does the potential for Aaronson to make a name for himself within the U.S. youth national team program. There's an under-20 World Cup next May, and at the start of this year, Aaronson was in an under-19 cohort at a national team training camp. If he can make a mark with Bethlehem and the Union, he could merit a look from the under-20s.

"I want to represent my country a lot," Aaronson said. "I'm going to keep pushing, see what I can do here, and hopefully get on that U-20 team."

Curtin hopes to help make it happen.

"If we're doing our job as a coaching staff, we have to find ways to keep Brenden going, and that needs to be a goal of his," he said. "He's certainly a name that will start to be in the discussions now."