On Wednesday morning New York Red Bulls announced the transfer signing of central midfielder Dru Yearwood from Brentford FC of England’s second division Football League Championship. The 20-year-old will be on a Young Designated Player contract and also occupy an international slot on the roster.
The announcement comes after the move was reportedly arranged months ago before being delayed due to logistical restrictions from the covid-19 lockdown. Yearwood had posted a cryptic message to Twitter on Tuesday following Brentford’s loss to fellow West London side Fulham in the playoff tie for promotion to the Premier League that implied his future lied elsewhere.
Regardless of what happens with me next... proud to be a part of this team in this special season, go and finish the job off boys @BrentfordFC COME ON YOU BEES!— Dru Yearwood (@DruYearwood) August 4, 2020
Yearwood is a 5’9” central midfield player originally from Harlow, Essex in the London suburbs who has been selected in the past by the England under-18 national team. He comes to New York after making only two league appearances in a single season on the books at Brentford, an ascendant West London club whose cutting-edge scouting and recruitment strategy has them on the doorstep of the first division. Yearwood had been signed from his boyhood club Southend United (where he made his senior debut as a 17-year old and went on to make league 53 appearances and even captained the team in some matches) for a reported £500,000 transfer fee in August of last year. While terms were not disclosed, it is easy to believe given Brentford’s precise transfer strategy that Red Bulls have paid somewhat more than that to secure his services a year later.
Available footage and scouting on Yearwood shows an energetic British-style box-to-box midfielder eager to wrestle and press in the center of the park as well as enter the attack with trailing runs. Though somewhat one-footed, he displays an ability to hit long passes and shots with a quick release as well the mobility to combine and make runs in wide areas. He fills what had become a thin area of the Red Bulls lineup with the team linked to a variety of central midfield options in recent years, most prominently Belgian veteran Hannes Van Der Bruggen last January. Indeed, Yearwood’s skill set is not dissimilar to that of Tyler Adams, the former New York prodigy whose departure for Europe in late 2018 preceded a sharp decline in the team’s once-formidable physical presence in midfield. With local product Sean Davis selected as squad captain earlier this year and seen as a key locker room figure, the signing of Yearwood could spell the end of the team’s long-term plan for Cristian Cásseres Jr.
The signing of Yearwood additionally becomes the first landmark moment in the tenure of new sporting chief Kevin Thelwell, whose appointment has brought a flurry of transfer rumors linking players from Britain’s lower leagues to New York. While a player who is still only 20 still has time to bounce back to Europe, this has all the markings of a long-term building block signing that will help to orient the shape and character of what is becoming Thelwell’s team.