For Etienne Jr., Time With Red Bull II Is an Opportunity

Matt Kremkau

By ANTHONY J. MERCED

downloadOne of the most talked about players in the Red Bulls system is Haiti international Derrick Etienne Jr.

Etienne, 20, has been in the conversation since the first New York Red Bulls II season in 2015 and could end up as a starter on the Major League Soccer roster. The journey to the top isn’t an easy one and Etienne has experienced his fair share of hardships, including a recent run of form that caused Coach Jesse Marsch to demote him the United Soccer League club. It could have been a confidence buster, but Etienne has rebounded. He scored his first goal of the season in a 2-1 win against first-place Charleston last Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders just to see the ball hit the back of the net,” Etienne said. “It’s going to give me a lot more confidence and hopefully I’ll be able to convert the rest of the chances I’m able to create.”

In 2016 Etienne scored five goals and had six assists as New York Red Bulls II won the USL championship. His quick pace and savvy ball movement made him one of the toughest players to defend. His development was monitored closely by Coach John Wolyniec. A New York soccer veteran in his own right, Wolyniec made sure Etienne didn’t grow too big for the shirt. Etienne started the 2017 season with the senior club, but lackluster performances led to a demotion.

Now, back with New York Red Bulls II (4-5-2, 14 points), Etienne once again looks comfortable on the wing and is producing in key moments. His game-winning free kick goal against Charleston helped the team end a three-game losing streak ahead of Saturday’s game at Richmond Kickers (2-5-4, 10).

“I think our mentality coming off of back-to-back losses was we didn’t want to lose another game at home,” Etienne said. “It kind of slipped away from us at times during the game but I felt like we were able to come back in and get the game back on our terms and I think that set-up how our goals went.”

Etienne is back in a comfortable position and regaining his confidence. Is a return to the senior team inevitable?

“Derrick has shown marked improvement,” Wolyniec said. “Nothing gets handed to you here or anywhere. He has to continue to push himself to get better. I try to challenge him each time. I know it’s not easy going from playing MLS games to playing Red Bulls II games, but if he wants to play minutes with the first team he has to continue to do more and to push himself and to continue to get better.”