Derrick Etienne, Jr. celebrates with his teammates after assisting on Gyasi Zardes’ goal. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
What is more frustrating than getting eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs?
Walking out the exit after one of your former players comes back to haunt you.
Case in point:
The Red Bulls’ 3-2 defeat to Columbus Crew SC.
Derrick Etienne, Jr. did his job, helping set up the hosts’ final two goals of the game Saturday.
He became the third former Red Bulls/MetroStars attacker to accomplish that feat, joining Jaime Moreno (2004) and Mike Magee (2011).
In the opening minute of the second half, Columbus took the lead to stay. Etienne, Jr. fired a shot from the right side that goalkeeper Ryan Meara saved. The rebound fell to Darlington Nagbe, who slotted the ball home for a 2-1 edge.
In the 68th minute, Etienne’s right-wing cross set up U.S. international Gyasi Zardes, who scored to give the hosts a 3-1 advantage.
Etienne, 23, played with the Red Bulls from 2016-19, scoring seven goals and assisting on six others sin 32 starts over 86 appearances. . He was loaned to FC Cincinnati in 2019 before signing with Columbus earlier this year. He finished with a goal and two assists in 891 minutes over eight starts and 21 matches.
As for Moreno and Magee, this is what they did:
Moreno, who played for the MetroStars after a 2002 trade brought him to the Red Bulls for the 2003 season, collected a goal and an assist in the 2004 playoffs. He set up Alecko Eskandarian’s insurance goal in the 2-0 win in the opener at Giants Stadium.
He then hammered yet another nail into the MetroStars coffin with the first strike in the 85th minute in the 2-0 victory at RFK a week later. In six playoff games against this club, Moreno has two goals and three assists. He also has dominated the franchise during the regular season.
Magee tallied the lone goal in a 1-0 Western Conference semifinal first-leg win at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 30, 2011. Magee had only five goals in 27 regular-season games for the Galaxy.
David Beckham started the scoring sequence, sending in a long-range pass into the penalty area. The Red Bulls’ backline held up its hands in unison, signifying offside. But the assistant referee and referee Alex Prus would have none of that. With plenty of room — right fullback Carlos Mendes was the nearest Red Bull — Magee volleyed the ball into the far right post and past goalkeeper Frank Rost for a 1-0 Galaxy advantage.
“One-hundred percent I was not offsides,” Magee said. “Even if I was, he didn’t call it, so I wasn’t.”
In the Nov. 4 return leg, Magee scored the first goal in a 2-1 win that clinched a spot in the conference final.