NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC have officially traded for midfielder Dru Yearwood, sending $75,000 in 2024 General Allocation Money to the New York Red Bulls, as well as $75,000 in 2025 GAM should Yearwood meet certain performance-based metrics. Yearwood will occupy a U-22 Initiative roster spot for Nashville.
“Dru gives us needed industry and athleticism as a progressive box-to-box midfielder, and should fit in almost seamlessly with our group,” Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs said in the club’s press release.
From our earlier report:
Yearwood, a product of Arsenal’s youth academy, was signed as a Young DP from Premier League side Brentford in 2020. He came to MLS with a high profile, and despite flashes in his first season, his development stalled under Gerhard Struber, with his minutes decreasing from 2021 until 2023.
This past season, he started just 11 games, playing a total of 953 league minutes in 20 appearances. His performances on the pitch underwhelmed; per American Soccer Analysis, Yearwood had the lowest Goals Added per 96 of any central midfielder in MLS with over 900 minutes played.
Comparing McCarty and Yearwood’s profiles show how dissimilar they are. Nashville badly need to replace McCarty’s passing and vision in midfield, and have been consistently hampered without a quality replacement when he’s not available. With his departure, they need it even more, and at first glance, Yearwood isn’t a like-for-like replacement.
While Yearwood is better at carrying the ball through pressure and creates more shots for himself, his passing is significantly less effective than McCarty. Both his attempted passes and completed passes are significantly lower than McCarty’s. He’s a completely different type of player.
Yearwood came to MLS as a high-potential player and hasn’t lived up to the billing so far. In a lot of ways, he fits Mike Jacobs’ mantra of “valuing the undervalued”. Depending on what Nashville give up to acquire him, the 23-year-old could be a low-risk, high-reward signing to add much-needed depth and youth to Nashville’s midfield.
Getting a former Young DP at a position of need for just $150k GAM appears to be great business for Nashville. However, it’s less cut-and-dry as it may seem initially. At nearly $600,000 in guaranteed compensation, Yearwood is currently the eighth-highest paid player on the Coyotes’ roster. He’s also in the last year of his contract, meaning he could leave for free at the end of the season.
Adding him in a U22 Initiative slot means Nashville can drop his budget charge down to $200,000 for the 2024 season, shaving roughly $400k off their budget charge. The problem is that Nashville have just one U22 Initiative slot to work this season. Under current roster rules, filling it with Yearwood would mean they can’t go out and sign a more high-value piece from outside the league. However, reports are circulating that teams may get three U22 slots, regardless of their Designated Player types, after the league owners’ meeting later this week.
It’s a low-risk, high-reward signing that could help alleviate some of Nashville’s gaping ball progression issues in midfield. Using a U22 initiative slot reduces opportunities to improve the roster elsewhere, though.
With the MLS trade window opening today, teams are able to sign and trade players from within MLS. Nashville are expected to be active in the trade market. Free agency opens on Wednesday, December 13, giving Nashville another mechanism by which to add players.