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Former Championship Title-Winner Etienne Jr. Strikes as Columbus Claims MLS Cup

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 12/13/20, 11:29AM EST


Joins Chris Armas in having scored in both MLS Cup and a USL Final while adding to title collection

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Add another title to Derrick Etienne Jr.’s collection.

And with it, a piece of history in American soccer circles.

The Haiti international – who helped the New York Red Bulls II claim the 2016 USL Championship Final, scoring the opening goal of their victory against Sporting Kansas City II – became only the second player to have scored in an MLS Cup Final and a USL Final as he helped Columbus Crew SC earn a 3-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC in MLS Cup on Saturday night at Mapfre Stadium.

Columbus had taken the lead in the 25th minutes when eventual MLS Cup MVP Lucas Zelarayan sweetly volleyed home a cross to the back post by Harrison Afful on the right. The Argentine had a role as Etienne doubled the lead six minutes later, picking him out in space on the left side of the penalty area. Etienne’s first-time finish to the right corner was precise, curling beyond the dive of Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

“Lucas did a great job of finding me open,” Etienne told media after the game. “I just wanted to make sure that I finished it. You get at least one chance. So, glad I was able to capitalize on it. So, right now get super excited and happy to get MLS Cup.”

Etienne’s goal was the first in an MLS Cup by a player to have previously scored in a USL Final since the first edition in 1996. Then it was Chris Armas who found the net for the LA Galaxy having previously scored in the 1995 USISL Pro League Final for the Long Island Rough Riders as they defeated the Minnesota Thunder 2-1 to claim the title.

After arriving in Columbus this offseason after being let go by the Red Bulls at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, the tally was a sweet one for the 24-year-old.

“After being cut I just wanted to make a team and prove myself in the league,” Etienne said during a video press conference. “I’m just grateful that Columbus gave me an opportunity to come in. I was able to just seize that moment and make the team. Then it was all about just keep grinding and keep pushing.

“That’s been the most thing that I had the whole year. When I got my opportunities, just try to take the take advantage of and do the most with it and I was able to do that tonight. So honestly, I’m just blessed to be in this situation and be able to get this.”

Etienne had matched his father in claiming a USL title in 2016 with the Red Bulls II, with Derrick Etienne Sr. having scored the game-winner for the Rough Riders in the 2002 USL D-3 Pro League Final against Wilmington Hammerheads. Now he’s got an MLS Cup-winner’s medal to go with it, and is ready for a bright future in Columbus.

“Of course, we’re going to celebrate for a couple of days and enjoy it,” he said, “but we want to move on to continue to keep this thing going.”

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