skip navigation

Etienne Makes Difference in Return to Red Bulls II

By SCOTT KESSLER – Contributor, 03/26/16, 6:30PM EDT


In first game as a professional, earned penalty to lead New York back against Toronto

HARRISON, N.J. ­– Derrick Etienne broke past his man, and helped to rewrite the script for the New York Red Bulls II as he made his return to Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls II got a big boost in their opening game of the USL season on Saturday from the man who had shined as an Academy signing in the club’s inaugural season as they came back to earn a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC II.

Appearing in his first game as a professional, Etienne turned the game when he took on his mark one-on-one and was pulled down in the penalty area by Toronto right back Anthony Osorio. Brandon Allen, also starting his first professional game, stepped up to the spot and scored at the second attempt after his penalty attempt was saved by Alex Bono, Toronto’s goalkeeper.

Allen would later grab a brace, scoring his second goal off an assist by Sean Davis as he received the ball at the edge of Toronto’s area and turned to his right before slotting home his finish to the near post.

“It’s very exciting, but I have to give my hats off to Derrick for getting the penalty kick,” Allen said. “I also think he helped me get my momentum for the second goal.”

Etienne and the Red Bulls II had difficulty in the first half converting their dominance in possession. The first 34 minutes were solidly in New York’s favor, but Toronto took the lead just a minute later against the run of play through Raheem Edwards. The Red Bulls II wound up down 2-0 in first-half stoppage time as center back Skylar Thomas scored unmarked on a first-time volley.

“Yeah, it’s really deflating when you give up a goal 30 seconds before halftime to make it 2-0,” Red Bulls II Head Coach John Wolyniec said. “I think there’s a mental thing that happens when you miss a few chances and you start to expect the worst. Then it ends up in the back of your net.”

The Red Bulls II quickly regained momentum after the break, as the club got a shot on target within the first minute of the second half. Wolyniec was full of praise for Etienne, who he believed helped to turn the tide of the flow of the game during the second half.

“We know he can make plays, whether it’s one-on-one, or setting up people,” Wolyniec said. “It’s excellent. Today, it looks like last year when he made plays for us. That’s a good sign. Clearly he has an ability to have an effect on the game in big moments.”

The drawn penalty kick and play that led to the creation of the second goal come on the back of an interesting 2015 for Etienne, who split time between Red Bulls II as an Academy signing before heading to the University of Virginia. Having signed a Homegrown Player contract this offseason, expectations are high for Etienne, who understands how important he can be for New York on and off the field.

“Last year I was an academy player, coming up for training,” Etienne said. “There wasn’t a lot of demand on me. College was one thing, USL is another thing. It’s taking the necessary steps to become a more complete player.

“This year, being a first team player, it’s my job to set an example. It’s a bigger role this year.”

As for his first professional outing, the 19-year-old focused mostly on how his teammates aided him in improving New York’s fortunes in the second half, pointing to their play providing him with space to run. Etienne felt that his ability to contribute to the play on the field greatly improved during the second half.

“In the first half we were a little slow getting going,” Etienne said, “but the guys were helpful. I was just trying to do anything to get on the ball. I found my space more [in the second half] and got more on the run to take on my guy.

“I think we were able to get the ball moving quicker with better passes and first touches. Guys were able to get on and beat their man. I was able to beat my guy and draw the PK. I think we were timid, at first. It came along and we were able to get the tie.”