Derrick Etienne credits Nagbe with helping him sign with Atlanta United

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Coming off a career year with Columbus that made him very sought-after within MLS, Derrick Etienne said he signed as a free agent with Atlanta United after a conversation with Darlington Nagbe.

Nagbe, who helped Atlanta United win three trophies, was traded to the Crew ahead of the 2020 season. He and Etienne played together the past three seasons. Etienne scored nine goals and had six assists last season.

“Nothing but good things to say,” Etienne said of Nagbe. “How the way they go about things is with the winning mentality.”

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Etienne said he and Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra began talking two days after free agency opened. He said Bocanegra told him that he liked his work rate on defense and his ability and willingness to run behind a team’s defensive line. Etienne said he was told that he will be used on the left wing. He has a conversation with manager Gonzalo Pineda, but they haven’t met in person.

Atlanta United tried several players on the left wing last season. The group included Thiago Almada, who eventually was moved to attacking midfielder and played well enough to be called up by Argentina for the World Cup, Marcelino Moreno, Caleb Wiley and Edwin Mosquera, among others.

“They’ve been looking for me to continue to do the things that I did very well and bring those things to this team,” Etienne said. “So that’s what I’m trying to do, and hopefully, I’m able to do that.”

Etienne said he had career highs in goals and assists because it was the first time he was a consistent starter across multiple seasons. He described as knowing that it was his job, rather than him trying to take the position from a teammate. His previous high for goals was five, set with the Red Bulls in 2018, and for assists was five, set with Columbus in 2021.

Etienne will bring MLS experience, as well. He’s been in the league since 2016. Atlanta United typically tries to sign at least one MLS veteran each season to add depth and knowledge to the roster.

“I‘m willing to give anything that I can to help a team so that we can, you know, ultimately make the playoffs and make runs and win trophies,” he said.

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