Tyler Freeman photo courtesy Sporting Kansas City/MLS
The striker that was promised! Nashville SC has picked up… a 19-year old American who spent last season with USL Championship (DC United development team) Loudoun United. From Club release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 3, 2023) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today it has signed attacking forward Tyler Freeman to a four-year contract.
Freeman is coming off a career-year where the 19-year-old scored eight goals in 24 appearances for Loudoun United FC of the USL Championship last season and played a 45-minute stint with Major League Soccer club D.C. United. Loudoun, an affiliate team of D.C. United, sent Freeman to the country’s capital, as Black-and-Red took on Flower City Union in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on April 19.
Freeman, a product of the Sporting Kansas City Youth Academy since age 11, became the second youngest player in Sporting Kansas City history to sign an MLS contract at the age of 15. Freeman made 35 appearances for Sporting Kansas City II during his time with the club.
At the international youth level, Freeman has represented the United States with their U-14, U-16 and U-17 national teams. He was instrumental in helping the U.S. to a second-place finish in the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship.Nashville SC release
A couple obvious connections here: a Sporting KC Academy prospect has a past relationship with Mike Jacobs, and a guy with US Youth National Team experience is a coveted youngster for Nashville’s purposes, even if he’s not going to be an instant impact on the field.
There’s no mention of Nashville acquiring his Homegrown rights, though given his age and academy history, they certainly did so (and at his age, they can take advantage of Homegrown status for a few years if the money is right – He made $112,500 from DCU last year, so that’s well within the range of fitting under the HG subsidy amount).
In his four professional seasons in USL (three with Swope Park Rangers, one with Loudoun), his numbers have been on a pretty solid upward trajectory – which you’d expect for a youngster who made his debut at 16 and is still just 19 (until Monday). A right-footed left winger (who’s also comfortable shooting with his off foot), Freeman’s performances according to American Soccer Analysis‘s Goals added have seen year-over-year improvement in dribbling, passing, receiving, and shooting, with more mixed trends in fouling and interrupting. His actual goal output went 1, 2, 3, and then 8 this past year, and his xA numbers have been on the way up, too. His 2021 season has a smaller sample size than expected because he was loaned to German club Karlsruher II in the Summer window (he made only four appearances and returned in January, signing with Loudoun for this past season).
With his signing, Nashville’s roster is up to 27 players committed for the season (with Rodrigo Piñeiro and Ake Loba assumed to be elsewhere). NSC will likely be loaning some of the players down to Huntsville City to continue gaining experience – and fill out that club’s competitive roster – in preparation for bigger roles in years to come.