Age at MLS Cup: 19
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
ALL COMPETITIONS IN 2020:
The homegrown Crew Academy product and last-minute starting MLS Cup midfielder has already been mentioned prominently when Josh spoke about the lead-up to the MLS Cup 2020 and then when he walked us through the game itself. Plus, I published a post that collected some of the comments made by Crew alumni about Aidan’s legendary MLS Cup performance. Still, there is more, so let’s get to it. Given how close they are, it’s no surprise that Sebastian Berhalter figures prominently when Josh discusses Aidan again.
THROUGH JOSH’S EYES
“He’s a 19-year-old kid. Him, Seba, and Miguel, those are my little brothers. They get under my skin a lot, and part of me loves it. I always kind of surround myself with them during certain activities because they are so young and energetic, so I try to keep up with them. And there are times, at 32, where I realize I can’t keep up with them, so then I’m just like, ‘Get away from me.’ It’s always tough love with them, but I have their back. So Aidan is like a little brother. Those guys are so youthful and energetic and always want to stay around. I think the best part of having those guys like Aidan, Seba, and Bouba is that they have been training with the academy for years, so they kind of knew the locker room. They weren’t foreign to the guys in there. Most of the core leadership guys had been around them for a while. They knew how we operate and how we do things. They were never the loud, boisterous rookies. They knew their role. I would talk to them and they would ask questions and they would notice how to perform and how to act.
“Aidan is such a good professional. If he’s feeling anything, he’s in the trainer’s room getting treatment. He takes care of himself. He stretches and he’s in the weight room all the time. He’s always doing extra work to the point that the trainers have to tell him to go home. To me, that’s a sign that someone isn’t taking their position for granted. He’s always trying to work. I think some of that comes from Seba, and Gregg obviously instilling that in Seba, and then Aidan and Seba being such close friends and they kind of link together and use each other to elevate their games.
“I didn’t even know if Seba or Aidan were even going to play at all when they first showed up because of how crowded our midfield is with Nagbe and Artur. It’s going to be hard to break in past those guys, but when they went down and we needed somebody behind them, you knew they were going to get some games. I just liked their attitude in preseason. At 19 years old, you know there are going to be some mental errors, or they might be late to a training session, or any of those things that young kids do. You have to be willing to take that, but then they have the willingness to understand that, and to ask questions, and to keep improving. They have that certain mindset. They have a professional mindset I haven’t seen in many kids their age. They’re just wise beyond their years.
“But sometimes I just need to tell them to get the hell away from me. (laughs) They’re always pulling little pranks or they try to get under my skin with some LeBron and Jordan talk. You know that will get me going, so I had to stop talking with them about that.
“They were in the group of guys that would play teqball. [NOTE: The Grant Lillard installment includes and explanation and video of teqball.] We started a league and I ended up creating rankings that somehow always managed to have me on top. I created the rankings and they were very easily manipulated. Adian and Seba would always team up and I would call them ‘the squirrels’ because they were so annoying. They were just constantly chirping the whole time. I think they were the worst team, but they were always chirping the entire time that they were best.
“I wasn’t anywhere close to being a professional at 19, but I can imagine how fun it would be, so I like being around them because every day they’re having fun. When you’re 11 years into a career, some days your body feels worse than others, so some days you’re a little more irritable than others, but they always come in and they’re in a good mood. They have a way of making you warm up to them, but some days you’re just like, ‘Get the hell away from me. I’m hungry, I’m sore…’ but by the end of the day you’re laughing and playing teqball with them. So it was a pleasure to be around them.
“What Aidan did in the championship game, I mean, as special as Lucas was, I think Aidan was right behind him in terms of how special that performance was. I feel like he stepped up and rose to the occasion. To me, that says so much about his character and his preparation for the moment. As a 19-year-old kid, that moment can be entirely too big for you, but you could tell he had been working toward that moment for his entire life. I think that whole year, he and Seba have been feeding off each other. And I honestly feel like if you had put Seba in there, he would have been ready for that moment too. I honestly feel like they are both that prepared and that good of young professionals. So I’m happy for Aidan. He deserved that. He’s a young kid, but he worked his butt off and I couldn’t be happier for him.
“I think Aidan has an incredible future. I’m confident in saying that because I see what kind of worker he is and he has a good head on his shoulders. He’s almost spoiled now, though. He steps in and wins a championship right away. But I think as a team, we will help keep him grounded. I’m excited to see where he goes from here.”
[NOTE: To see a clickable list of earlier installments of this Josh Williams series or other MLS Cup related posts, please click HERE.]
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