Media’s Auston Trusty became the latest Philadelphia-area product to make it to a big global soccer stage on Monday, when the Colorado Rapids sold the defender to English power Arsenal.
Trusty, a 23-year-old centerback, grew up in the Union’s youth academy and turned pro with his hometown team in 2016 two days before his 18th birthday. He was the second significant product of the high school the Union launched in Wayne in 2013 (the first being Derrick Jones, currently playing for the Houston Dynamo), and he played for the U.S. at the 2015 under-15 and 2017 under-20 World Cups.
“Growing up in Media, PA, the thought of joining such a prestigious club seemed crazy,” Trusty wrote in a statement on social media. “Today that crazy dream became a reality. Thank you to the entire @coloradorapids organization and a huge thank you to my coaches + support staff for helping me grow these last 2 years on and off the field.”
After spending 2016 and 2017 playing for the Union’s reserve team, Trusty made his MLS debut at the start of the 2018 season. He was an ideal left-footed centerback for former Union sporting director Earnie Stewart’s possession-based system. But when Stewart left later that year and Ernst Tanner took over, Trusty didn’t fit right in Tanner’s high-pressing playbook.
The Union traded Trusty to the Rapids after the 2019 season, after he played 62 games here in total. Colorado agreed to pay the Union $600,000 in allocation money split over 2020 and 2021, rising to $750,000 with performance incentives that were met.
Trusty played 42 games for the Rapids, enjoying a fine season last year in particular. His success brought him back to the U.S. national team’s domestic reserve player pool for this winter’s training camps.
Along with the allocation money the Union received, they were also guaranteed a significant sell-on clause: 30% of any transfer fee if he was sold abroad before the end of 2021 or a 25% share if sold afterward, minus the aforementioned $750,000.
In other words: take the fee, subtract $750,000, then count 25% of what’s left. That’s the Union’s cut.
Of course, we don’t yet know the size of the fee. When we learn it, we’ll learn the size of the Union’s cut.
Trusty drew interest from multiple European clubs, but his going to Arsenal specifically brings an extra layer. The Gunners and the Rapids are both owned by Stan Kroenke, the billionaire magnate who also owns the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, and most significantly (especially these days) the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
In acquiring Trusty, Arsenal announced that he will stay with the Rapids on loan until July 17.
“We are privileged to be part of an organization with the reach and scale of [Kroenke Sports & Entertainment] that allows us to help a player of Auston’s potential further his development and career aspirations in Europe,” Rapids sporting director Pádraig Smith said in a statement.
Trusty is the second American to join Arsenal in this winter’s European transfer window, following New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner. Arsenal paid $6 million for Turner, with a further $4 million in incentives. Like Trusty, Turner will move to London in the summer.
Trusty is also on track to be one of three Union academy products signing deals with European teams this winter. Anthony Fontana is finishing paperwork to sign with Serie B club Ascoli after a trial there, Italy’s Gianluca Di Marzio — that nation’s top transfer news outlet — said Monday. Patrick Bohui, who grew up in the Union academy but never turned pro here, moved to Danish first-tier club Vejle Boldklub in mid-January.
When the dust settles, Trusty will be the third Philly-area player at a major European club along with Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) and Zack Steffen (Manchester City) — both of whom spent time in the Union academy as kids.
The total might have been four if Leeds United’s reported $27 million bid for Red Bull Salzburg’s Brenden Aaronson was successful. But for all the hype the bid received, it was never going to succeed. Salzburg always wanted to keep Aaronson through the summer and to play him in next month’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 series against mighty Bayern Munich.
Leeds also still owes Red Bull’s global soccer conglomerate more than $23 million from buying Leipzig’s Jean-Kévin Augustin two years ago, which has made Red Bull uninterested in selling to Leeds specifically.