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Bulls Abroad: Derrick Etienne gets his first start for Haiti in 2-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis

Another milestone to cap a memorable rookie year for RBNY's Etienne.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Etienne has had a quite a rookie year: he turned pro with the New York Red Bulls in December, 2015; most of the 2016 season was spent playing in USL for NYRB II, and he won the league's regular season title and USL Cup this year; in August, he made his competitive debut for RBNY, in CONCACAF Champions League; in September, he made his MLS debut; on November 9, he made his first senior international appearance for Haiti; on November 13, he got his first senior international start.

Etienne doesn't turn 20 until November 25.

The start for Haiti was unexpected. Etienne is still a young player, and Les Grenadiers were playing a crucial Caribbean Cup match: it was a must-win for a team whose chance of qualifying for next year's Gold Cup was hanging by a thread. So it wasn't an obvious game to throw in a new player, but head coach Patrice Neveu was clearly in a mood to experiment a little.

Derrick Etienne's first start for Haiti was a do-or-die road game against St. Kitts and Nevis. The Haitians controlled possession for most of the match, but struggled to break down the Kittitian defense. For much of the first half, Etienne seemed isolated - stuck out on the wing, with the game played at a tempo too slow for his talents to really shine.

With NYRB II, Etienne has thrived on the Red Bulls' high-pressure game. But Haiti played at a slower pace, and it never quite allowed the young RBNY man to showcase the speed of thought or foot that has made him a rising star in the Red Bulls' system.

He moved around the field a bit, including what looked like a stint in central midfield during the second half, but his best chance - a tricky volley from an unlikely angle - went begging, and Etienne was eventually subbed out as Haiti tasked fresher legs with the goals it needed to stay in the hunt for a Gold Cup berth.

Goals. Not a single goal. As the 90th minute approached, Les Grenadiers had two problems: if St. Kitts scored, they were eliminated from Gold Cup qualifying; if Haiti scored, both teams would be eliminated.

Technically, this was a 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifier, but both sides were already out of the running for a place in the finals of that tournament. They were instead playing to be one of the best-ranked second-placed teams in the Caribbean Cup qualifying groups: the best three runners-up progress to a playoff round; the winner of the playoff round proceeds to play a Central American team for a spot in the 2017 Gold Cup.

For St. Kitts, all that was required was a win, even if that win came on penalties. The Sugar Boyz were therefore relatively content with a counter-attacking game. Haiti, however, had to score at least two goals.

When Donald Guerrier finally opened the scoring in the first half of extra time, all he had achieved was the potential elimination of both his own team and its opponent: neither St. Kitts nor Haiti could get to the playoff round with a 1-0 win for Les Grenadiers.

In the 119th minute, however, Duckens Nazon added a second.

It isn't entirely clear whether the 2-0 win is good enough to get Haiti into the playoff round, but the Haitians celebrated as though there were little doubt in their minds: until or unless the CFU rules differently Les Grenadiers would appear to be into the three-team playoff.

wikipedia.org

(But if Wikipedia has those tie-breakers right, Antigua and Barbuda should be through instead of Haiti, by virtue of not having needed extra time to get its three points.)