Ethan Kutler helped set up both Red Bulls goals. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Before taking the field at Red Bull Arena against Seattle Sounders FC Wednesday night, Ethan Kutler had all of one minute in Major League Soccer under his belt.
After leaving the pitch along with his victorious Red Bull Arena, the 23-year-old right back had a lot more experience and two assists.
Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.
“You know, he’s a very gifted player, passer, on the ball,” Red Bulls head coach told the media after the game in Harrison, N.J. “We’re continuing to try to build in more defensive sophistication and more of a defensive edge with him but he does provide us with that ease to be able to pass, put plays together, see the next play and on certain days, that’s really valuable. We knew that we — that Seattle would be defending a lot.”
Moved up from Red Bull II, Kutler acquitted himself well even though he moved up a level or two from the United Soccer League.
“It’s a pretty big adjustment,” he said. “Tempo-wise, pace wise, physicality-wise. But it’s something I feel that I’m up for the challenge. The guys are making it easy for me. They have my back, I have theirs type mentality. It’s a good environment for everybody on the field. You work hard for other people, they’ll work hard for you.”
In 15 games with NYRBII last year, Kutler finished with a goal and one assist. So, securing two assists in his first full game is mind-boggling, especially for a right back who is more accustomed to playing in the middle of the defense.
“It’s definitely a transition getting back to right back, but the system makes it easy,” he said. “It’s very straightforward where you have to play the ball, where you run, where you’re required to be defensively. You just have to keep the shape and play simple and that’s pretty much it.”
Kutler helped set up both Red Bulls’ goals. He fed Florian Valot with a pass down the right side that led to Daniel Royer’s goal in the 37th minute. His right-wing cross allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to head home his 10th goal this season in the 52nd minute.
“It’s obviously nice,” BWP said. “That’s what I want from the guys, creating chances. I can’t complain with the service in that cross. I think he did well today, especially on the ball.”
The Lansing, N.Y. native and Colgate University standout gave credit to the Red Bulls’ system.
“Well the system we play and the players who are playing in front of me make it easy for me,” he said. “They move a lot off the ball and all I have to do is pick my head up and make the right pass. Most of the time it’s Flo going down the line or Derrick [Etienne, Jr.] or Brad popping into the inside channel, so you know it’s pretty straightforward where the ball should be played.”