Paxten Aaronson is one of several promising young talents for the Philadelphia Union first team squad in Major League Soccer, but on Monday night he played the hero in MLS NEXT Pro action as Marlon LeBlanc’s side claimed a third-straight win in league play.
Aaronson came off of the bench and delivered the winning goal in Union II’s 1-0 home victory over Orlando City B at Subaru Park. Despite a monumental effort from OCB goalkeeper Javier Otero, the visiting Lions could not claim a second league win of the 2022 season.
Otero was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first-half, making five saves to keep the hosts at bay. Otero’s first save of the match came in the eighth minute, diving to his left to deny Nelson Pierre from registering his third league goal of the season.
Union II continued to knock on the OCB door before halftime, but Otero was up to the task on Quinn Sullivan’s shot before watching the crossbar deny Sullivan’s rebound attempt.
Jack McGlynn’s curling effort in stoppage time was the latest Union II chance repelled by the in-form Otero, as the 19-year-old kept OCB level through 45 minutes.
Union II’s pressure finally paid off in the 51st minute as Aaronson came off of the bench and made an immediate impact. Otero denied Aaronson’s original right-footed shot in the box, but the Medford, New Jersey native sent the rebound through Otero’s legs and into the back of the net.
It was Aaronson’s second goal in his fourth MLS NEXT Pro appearance of the season.
Matt Freese didn’t have much to do in Monday’s affair, but came up clutch when called upon with a pair of key saves late in the second-half. First, Freese dove to his right to keep Moises Tablante’s low shot from sneaking into the bottom-left corner in the 77th minute before the 23-year-old punched away Brandon Hackenberg’s header from point-blank range.
OCB tried to grab an equalizer in the final minutes, but was unable to beat Freese as Union II leapfrogged New England Revolution II into second place in the Eastern Conference.
Union II hits the road in Week 9 visiting RNY FC on May 21 while Orlando City B hosts Inter Miami II on the same night.
Paxten Aaronson waited for his chance to show what he can bring to the Philadelphia Union II attack on Monday night and only six minutes into his fourth league appearance of the MLS NEXT Pro season, the 18-year-old delivered a bit of magic for the hosts.
Aaronson scored his second league goal of the season as Union II extended their winning run to three matches, claiming a 1-0 win over Orlando City B and moving into second place in the Eastern Conference. Despite Javier Otero delivering a Man of the Match performance in defeat for OCB, Aaronson’s attacking abilities were on display and his offensive drive made the difference in the final score.
His fight in front of goal helped Union II take a 1-0 lead early in the second-half, while Aaronson continued to be a pest for the rest of the match. Aaronson wasn’t afraid to take on opposing defenders, teaming up with Chris Donovan and Jose Riasco late in the second-half to help wind down the remaining minutes on the clock.
Aaronson only played 45 minutes in the match, but finished with four total shots, two shots-on-goal, one key pass, and four duels won. His impactful performance off of the bench might help Aaronson force his way into the first team picture with Jim Curtin’s Union playing two matches in five days.
Should he remain with Union II though, he could get the starting nod for a Saturday road showdown at in-form Rochester New York FC.