HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls have signed Academy product midfielder and Bloomfield, N.J. native Bento Estrela to a Major League Soccer Homegrown contract, it was announced Tuesday afternoon.
Estrela became the youngest New York Homegrown signing and the fourth-youngest signing in league history at the age of 14 years and 364 days.
At 14 years, 11 months and 30 days, Estrela becomes the third-youngest Homegrown signing in league history behind Chicago’s goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, who signed at 14 years, nine months and 22 days. He is the 24th Homegrown Player in franchise history and the 26th academy product to sign with the first team. Estrela is New York’s youngest Homegrown signing by 684 days, edging out Tyler Adams, who signed at 16 years, eight months and 21 days.
“This is an exciting day for Bento and his family, and for everyone at the club as well,” Red Bulls head of sport Kevin Thelwell said in a statement. “Bento has stood out at the academy level and progressed quickly while playing with an older age group. By bringing him into our professional environment, we aim to maximize his development and give him the best chance to grow as a player and a person.”
Estrela joined the New York Red Bulls Academy in July 2019 and has appeared in 22 matches. He scored his first goal for Red Bulls Under-19 squad at 14 against Philadelphia Union II Nov. 7, 2020. He also assisted on the final goal for the U-14 team in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur Academy to advance to the knockout rounds of ICC Futures tourney Dec. 12, 2019. Estrela helped the U-14 team become the only MLS academy team to advance to the Round of 16 in the ICC Futures.
“We at the Academy are extremely proud of Bento’s progress over the last 18 months and are excited to see him sign his first professional contract with New York Red Bulls,” Red Bulls Academy director Sean McCafferty said in a statement. “Although Bento is very young, he understands that this is just the beginning and that the hard work starts now. I’d like to take this moment to congratulate Fouad Kawtari for scouting and recruiting Bento to New York Red Bulls and also the Academy coaches/staff who work hard to challenge him every day to ensure we accelerate his development and ultimately help him fulfill his potential.”