Do you feel that? Take a deep breath.
That’s two, count ‘em, two weeks of wonderful news for Atlanta United fans in the midst of the World Cup. The Five Stripes announced today they’ve signed former Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls winger Derrick Etienne, Jr.
The rumor first surfaced around November 17th by Tom Bogert, who mentioned the near-26 year old winger was in town and checking out Atlanta’s training facilities and other offerings.
Source: Atlanta United are working on deal to sign free agent winger Derrick Etienne Jr. He's Atlanta meeting with the club, touring the facilities. Nothing done yet but positive signs.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) November 17, 2022
Etienne, turning 26 next week, had career best 9g/6a in 2022. Won 2020 MLS Cup with Columbus. pic.twitter.com/zf13iqETVf
It seems the announcement was placed temporarily on the back burner in the wake of the Garth Lagerway acquisition, and rightfully so, but if you paid attention to social media on the 22nd, folks shared multiple screenshots of the signing apparently being announced on Atlanta United’s Youtube channel until it was quickly removed. Either way, this is a one-two punch of superb news after an otherwise tough 2022 season.
Etienne was recently released by Columbus Crew after spending three full seasons in Ohio, where he helped the team hoist the MLS Cup in 2020. This past season actually saw some of his best work, though, as he netted 9 goals and 6 assists. Prior to his tenure with the Crew, Etienne was raised in the Red Bull’s academy program, which he joined at age 12 before playing a short stint at the University of Virginia. He then became a staple of the Red Bulls II squad before solidifying a spot in their first team, even contributing the game winning goal in 2018 against Orlando (mwahahahaha he fits right in) that elevated the New York side to the Supporter’s Shield over the Five Stripes. Furthermore, Derrick has 37 caps with the Haitian national team, where he’s scored 7 goals and helped push the team to their dream 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal run.
It’ll be interesting to see how Gonzalo Pineda implements Etienne, since he’s primarily employed as a left winger. Perhaps this indicates the front office is looking at loans or other moves for some of the younger attacking talent much like they did with Tyler Wolff earlier this year. Regardless, expect Etienne to be heavily involved in the upcoming season where he’ll provide both a spark and an intelligent presence and voice up top. He’s also a player who isn’t afraid to take shots, and his abilities on the left have the potential to draw a lot of defensive attention away from guys like Luiz Araujo.
Overall, we have a streak of good news for the Five Stripes, and it’s a welcome sight to watch some of the haze of 2022 starting to lift. Welcome to Atlanta, Derrick!