The New York Red Bulls transfer wheel is increasing in RPM, with perhaps the most interesting development yet being the long-expected signing of 20-year-old Duke University midfielder Peter Stroud to a Homegrown contract as confirmed on Saturday.
While it’s expected he will initially carry the moniker of “Jared Stroud’s younger brother” in Red Bulls circles, the two-time ACC Midfielder of the Year has an even more extensive pedigree, and will look to make his own name for himself in the organization. Certified the “best midfielder in college soccer” by OaM academy correspondent Eric Friedlander, the Red Bulls Academy alum left the organization to join the storied youth system of English club West Ham United at only 16, spending two years there before taking a scholarship with the Blue Devils. He absolutely dominated from there, voted the Duke MVP his freshman year, going All-American twice, and finishing as a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy his junior year. Considering how things turned out for Sean Davis, the last Duke alum to sign a Red Bulls homegrown deal, it’s a promising resume.
It seems a Red Bulls return was always the path for Stroud, choosing to not declare for the merry-go-round that is the MLS SuperDraft after forgoing his final year of college eligibility. The two seem almost made for each other, with Stroud being a high energy, pressing central midfielder. Local news cited his “tireless engine, effective pressing and pinpoint passing accuracy” as standout traits, all of which will slot perfectly into the Red Bulls’ young midfield core. More offensively oriented than his brother was, Stroud’s five assists in his junior season will bode nicely for a side that was starved creatively for most of 2022. He will likely play a more reserved role at the pro level, but strengthens the central midfield rotation that found itself a little stretched at certain parts of last season.
Despite the depth chart being rather deep at central midfield, with Yearwood, Amaya, Casseres Jr., Edelman, Carmona, and Ssweradda all able to play, the tiring system and the MLS summer grind will provide plenty of minutes for the younger Stroud. In 2022, 5 midfielders reached 15 appearances, with Struber allowing for plenty of turnover and experimentation throughout the year. 2023 looks to be no different, and Stroud will certainly get a chance to break into the starting 11 at a club that is never shy to trust its young players. The possibly departing John Tolkin became a guaranteed starter with only a year’s worth of professional experience under his belt, and with an average squad age of 22.7 years, Stroud is practically middle aged.
College soccer is not seen as too far removed from rec leagues for many MLS fans, with promising NCAA stars like Daryl Dike, Tajon Buchanan, and Walker Zimmerman heavily doubted after turning pro. The step up in quality is undeniable, and for this reason supporters are rarely impressed with signings such as Stroud’s, but if there’s any time that they should make an exception, it’s now. Stroud has a very impressive resume, with his time at West Ham not to be overlooked, and is an extremely promising player that the Red Bulls will look to hold onto. Development is rarely linear, but this is a player that can be expected to make a solid impact at the first team level, and what else can you ask for?