Interview with Derrick Etienne Jr, New York Red Bulls player

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Dictate the Game are big fans of soccer in America, so we were delighted when Derrick agreed to an interview. On a personal level, as a big New York fan, I was really excited to get the oppourinity to interview Derrick – and he didn’t disappoint. We talked about the future of the franchise, his aims to break into the first team, winning the USL regular season championship and what it is being managed by John Wolyniec, a Metro legend. If you are not familiar with the MLS or American soccer in general, you may not have heard of Derrick – so who is his? Derrick Etienne Junior is a professional footballer playing for the New York Red Bulls and their USL affliate New York Red Bulls II. He is aged 19 and for many years he has been ranked as one of the most promising youngsters at the club.¬† He made his first appearance for New York when he came on against DC United this season.

You are a Haiti international and have played for them at youth level, this is despite being born in Virginia, how did this come along and what is it like playing for the national team?

I’m Haitian American, from my fathers side. I went to two US camps at under 14s but after that Haiti was the only team calling me in for camps and qualifies. I would have like to at least explored my options and get a camp with either.

The MLS is very different to many leagues around the world, one of the many differences are the MLS Drafts where a club can draft a player when their rights aren’t owned by any MLS side, how do you feel about the these drafts? Would you prefer a normal system with transfers or is the draft a good way in your opinion?

To be honest I really don’t have an opinion on the draft. Every player has a right to make their dream a reality.

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Derrick Etienne Jr playing for Haiti

You played college football at Virginia Cavaliers last year, how do you feel that this has shaped your future career?

It’s hard to say how they helped. Red Bull and UVA play to completely different styles of soccer. Red Bull focuses more on high pressure and UVA more on being compact and being more in a defensive shape

You made an appearance for New York Red Bulls as a sub in the MLS this season. What did it feel like to walk out in front of all of the fans and play a soccer match on a pitch in the biggest soccer competition in the country?

It was amazing, a dream come true. Since I was in the academy I dreamed of wanting to step on the field for the first team and for me to do it against a big rival like D.C. United at home on September 11 is something I’ll never forget.

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Derrick Etienne Jr playing for the New York Red Bulls

You spent the 2015 season with the clubs’ USL affiliate club, New York Red Bulls II, and on loan with them this season, how has the spells with NYRBII helped your development as a player?

My loans with the USL team have been incredible. Training and learning things in training with the first team and then getting important minutes with USL has been great.

New York Red Bulls II won the USL Regular Season Championship this season, why do you think this was achieved and do you think the team can follow it up by winning the USL Play Offs?

I think our team tactics have had a big part to do with winning the regular season. We all understand our roles as players so we feel confident that whoever steps on the field will do their job. Yes I do think we can continue our great run of form and win the Play Offs.

Your father, Derrick Etienne, was a striker for Long Island Rough Riders, was he an inspiration for you to get into football, seeing him scoring goals, did it inspire you to be just like him?

Yeah my father did inspire me. Growing up I wanted to be just like him, and watching him and other players made me love the game.

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Derrick playing for USL side, New York Red Bulls II.

The Red Bulls won the Supporters Shield last year, and even though you weren’t directly involved, did it make you proud being part of this franchise? Did it have an overall effect on everyone involved with the club? Did this show you that the team you signed for was one going somewhere in the future with a very good squad, can beat anyone when on their day, and a very good head coach, what did this tell you?

To be honest I was always proud to be apart of the franchise. I think winning just showed everyone else what we (the franchise) already knew which was we are the best team in the league and we are a force to be reckoned with. I trained with the first team and got to know the players and coaching staff so I knew this was a good place to be

You’re only 19, but where do you see your career going? Would you like to work your way into the first team at NYRB, or do you see your future abroad in England in the Premier League or somewhere else?

I definitely want to break into the first team on a more consistent basis and after that only God knows what will happen next.

You spent your whole youth career at the New York Red Bulls Academy, and quickly became one of the most promising youngsters at the academy. How did it feel to know you were valued so high from the club?

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Derrick after signing an Homegrown Player contract for the Red Bulls.

It was really cool honestly. To be a valued player in one of the best academies in the country with some of the top players in the country was amazing.

The club is now well-known for its amazing and loyal supporters, and as captain, Dax McCarty said, “It’s probably one of the most fan base in all of sports”, does this put pressure on you when playing or do you thrive in pressure and aim to payback the fans for their support?

I don’t really see it as pressure. To be able to play in front of our fans is amazing and we just go out there and entertain them

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Derrick shooting in a game for the New York Red Bulls II in the USL.

The club have so many talented players, including Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, BWP, Dax McCarty, do you look up these players? How much have you learnt from these players and the whole squad when training with them?

Of course, I learn things from them every day. We have such a talented group of guys who are always willing to help teach you things.

The game on October 16th was a double header at Red Bull Arena, with New York vs Columbus in the MLS first then the NYRB II played Louisville City in the Conference Final after the match, how excited are you to play in front of 15-20,000 fans and the South Ward making lots of noise, cheering you and chanting

It was great! Being able to play in Red Bull Arena is a blessing itself but to be able to play in front of the fans is a plus

NYRB II are managed by Metro legend, John Wolyniec, how is it working with someone so respected with a legendary status at the club, and how is he to work with on a day to day basis?

I’m not with John on a daily basis but knowing him from the academy it’s great to be coached by a metro legend.

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Celebrating with his team mates that NYRBII are the Eastern Conference winners in the USL.

New York Red Bulls have not yet won a MLS Cup (as of, October 14th 2016), do you feel that with the group of players that the club have and with youngsters, like yourself, Aaron Long and Alex Muyl coming along, do you think the club can finally the cup and dominant the league?

I think since we’ve moved into the Arena we have been a pretty dominant side in the league and have come close to MLS success. So I think it’s just a matter of time.

What are you aims in the 2017 season? Are you looking to break into the first team at New York. How much are you looking forward to working with Jesse Marsch and the squad next season.

Definitely aiming to break into more first team rosters. I’m super excited to continue to work with Jesse and squad next year.

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The man (Jesse Marsch, head coach at NYRB) that Derrick is looking forward to working with

Is there anything you would like to say the supporters at New York?

I’m just excited to continue to play in front of the fans I grew up hearing when I was a ball boy.

Dictate the Game would like to thank Derrick for answering our questions and wish him and NYRB II the best of success in the USL Play Offs Final and we also wish the best of luck to Derrick in his future career.

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