There has always been a big question mark about allowing youth players getting a chance to prove themselves on the pitch and become apart of the squad either with the starting eleven or coming off the substitutes bench.
Since the beginning of this transformation of giving youth players a chance can be looked at when the New York Red Bulls started their USL side in Red Bulls 2 and since their first season in 2015 the slow and solid inclusion of these players have been non stop.
It started with Sean Davis quickly moving in from the USL side to the MLS Side, then it was that magical International Champions Cup match as the Baby Bulls down by a goal at halftime to then defending Premier League Champions in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, scoring four and winning it by four goals to two.
Alex Muyl earned his first MLS goal in the seven goal clean sheet road win at Yankee Stadium in 2016, then Tyler Adams began his ascension to the starting eleven last season. towards the end of last season Vincent Bezecourt was inserted into the squad.
But these two highly rated players were the ones that have broken through on the offensive side of the ball. While defense has been pretty good and playmaking has looked solid, you need those players to put the ball in the back of the net and those two are Florian Valot and Derrick Etienne Jr.
Since 2016 Etienne Jr. was given a couple of games as a substitute and it began during the group stage of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League as he came in late in the second half against Antigua GFC of Guatemala and he ran rough shot all over them.
He had at least a chance to get one in, but sadly he missed the net. Yet you saw the potential he has to be a dangerous attacker. In 2017 he had more chances to get involved into the play, that included the run in the 2017 US Open Cup where he was subbed in after FC Cincinnati earned a two goal lead and helped begin the comeback.
He got involved with the first goal by Gonzalo Veron and then the equalizer which was also the first of two goals converted by Bradley Wright-Phillips. In 2018 Etienne Jr. has been used as a substitute, but when Jesse Marsch needed to do some roster rotation, Etienne Jr. started in two league games.
He assisted on the historic goal for seventeen year old Ben Mines in the home & league season opener, then he finally got his first goal in league play and for his MLS career. It was a brilliant pass from Valot that got into space and when he caught up to it, he nutmegs Joe Bendik and splashed into the back of the net.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to get it, Flo (Florian) put it into a great spot I tried to make a good run at it.” Said Etienne Jr. “Just try to keep the ball low and luckily it went thru the keeper’s legs.”
Valot has shown he is a solid passer as well as a goal scorer. Not only can he deliver a great ball like he did for Bradley Wright-Phillips in his second goal at Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League, he can also convert his chances like he did against Orlando City.
He opened the scoring as Marc Rzatkowski took control of the ball and went to the near side finding Alejandro Romero Gamarra, then Valot waited to spring into action as he took a run along the back post. As soon as Kaku crossed the ball Valot leapt high in the air and a snap header to beat Bendik for his first MLS Goal.
“Scoring my first MLS Goal felt amazing. It was a great play from Kaku along the left side, I was able to sneak into the second post.” said Valot.
But after this match both men said that they would trade their goals and get the three points. This shows how talented this side truly is from the academy to the PDL squad that will begin their US Open Cup campaign in the first round on May 9th to the USL side that just thrashed the Charleston Battery 5-2 to those who have graduated from the USL to the MLS Squad.
The majority of those players who are on the MLS squad were apart of that 2016 USL Championship side that won the club their first USL title. The future is very bright for the Red Bulls as they have taken player development very seriously.
After every MLS season is finished, the questions to Jesse Marsch will always be, whose next to depart the MLS roster since these kids look like they are ready for the next level. If you were curious to know who could be the next attackers and goal scorers on this squad, then Etienne Jr. & Valot are the future and they are shining bright every single time they step on the pitch.