Griffin Yow turned 16 in September, but after a promising performance competing with professionals over the past few months, the precocious attacker is joining the adult soccer world.
Yow — from Clifton, Va., and until recently Centreville High School — signed a homegrown contract Tuesday with D.C. United, becoming the 12th player in 8½ years to jump from the organization’s youth academy to the MLS operation.
He will begin his career with Loudoun United, D.C.'s new second-division team, and is likely to receive top-tier playing time this year in D.C. friendlies and nonleague matches.
News of Yow’s imminent signing appeared on the Insider on Monday night.
Yow withdrew from high school to devote more time to soccer and is taking online classes.
"Griffin is a promising young prospect who has grown tremendously in the past 18 months in our academy,” D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper said in a written statement.
Yow is the fourth D.C. player to sign a homegrown contract before his 17th birthday, joining Chris Durkin, Andy Najar (now with Anderlecht in Belgium) and Michael Seaton (second-division Orange County). In 2004, Freddy Adu was 14 when he signed, but that was before the academy system and homegrown framework were launched.
Academy director Ryan Martin said of Yow, “He’s obviously talented, but his mentality and drive make him unique."
Yow’s agent, Dan Segal from the Wasserman agency, also represents D.C. Coach Ben Olsen and many players in MLS and abroad.
“Griffin is a talented young player and also a great, thoughtful kid," Segal said. “He thought through his various options very carefully. In the end, he is a proud member of D.C. United who sees a great potential pathway to success with his hometown club.”
This winter, Yow was invited to D.C. training camp in Florida, appearing in preseason tuneups before joining Loudoun as an amateur for the first two USL matches. He was a substitute in the inaugural game at Nashville and, in a starting assignment Saturday against Memphis, he scored the first goal in team history with a looping shot from the top of the penalty area.
Yow started on the left wing Saturday and could see time in central midfield.
Several other current and former academy prospects are in the mix with Loudoun United. including D.C. homegrown signings Donovan Pines (Clarksburg, Md.; University of Maryland) and Antonio Bustamante (Springfield, Va.; William & Mary).
Besides United, Yow is a hot prospect with the U.S. under-17 national team. He scored twice in five appearances last year and scored three goals.
Yow’s mother, Kathy, played at N.C. State. His siblings, Haley (Duquesne) and Andrew (Mary Washington), also played college soccer.