Nashville SC didn’t wait long to start making moves ahead of the 2024 MLS season. According to a report from The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert, Nashville have agreed to a deal with New York Red Bulls for midfielder Dru Yearwood ahead of the window opening on Monday, December 11.
What it means for Nashville
Nashville have a massive hole to fill in midfield following Dax McCarty’s announcement that he’s not returning to Music City. The Yearwood news breaking immediately on the heels of that contrasts their two styles of play.
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.
Regardless, though, Nashville need to sign more than just Yearwood this winter to overhaul their midfield ahead of the 2024 season.