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Kutler’s first MLS start another sign of Red Bulls’ young, deep roster


In a way, the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday was a snapshot of the team’s season so far. Once again, New York Red Bulls II players past and present found themselves in the senior team’s lineup, and the latest player to make the jump was Ethan Kutler.

“He’s a very gifted player,” head coach Jesse Marsch said following the match. “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.”

The right back showed off that passing ability, recording assists on both of the Red Bulls’ goals. The second one in particular was memorable, as Kutler’s superb cross was finished by Bradley Wright-Phillips. Despite impressing the crowd, the process was simple was simple for Kutler.

“You look for Bradley Wright-Phillips when he’s in the box,” Kutler said. “He’s always making pretty great runs, so it’s pretty easy to find him.”

As for his overall performance, Kutler was modest despite receiving praise from his coach.

It’s my first MLS start, so I’m pretty proud of that, but it’s a high pressure situation for me,” he said. “I obviously [had] a little nervous energy out there. I’m missing passes, missing defensive plays, but it’s something that I’m going to get used to, playing in high pressure situations, so hopefully down the line I can be comfortable in these types of situations. 

It’s a pretty big adjustment tempo-wise, pace-wise, [and] physicality-wise,” though he noted that the easiest part of the transition is understanding the system. “The system’s pretty much the same,” he added, “so you know exactly what you have to do for both teams.”

As Luis Robles noted, Kutler’s strong start mimics the success of many of the other players on the Red Bulls’ roster.

It’s not Ethan,” the goalkeeper said, “it’s pretty much anyone whose number has been called upon this season.”

Kutler joins the likes of Florian Valot and Vincent Bezecourt, among others, to make his way onto the first team after spending an extended period of time with the USL side. In years past, Marsch and company have handed similar promotions to other players, but a majority of them saw very few minutes. With the departure of older players like Sacha Kljestan and Mike Grella during the offseason, spots opened up for the younger talent within the organization, and many of them have taken advantage of their opportunities.

Additionally, their performances have provided their teammates with a sense of relief, especially during weeks with multiple matches.

I remember in years past, when we had to deal with stretches like we are right now, we just thought, ‘Oh no. Who’s going to step up? Are they going to be able to do this?,'” Robles said. “We [would] question our depth,” the goalkeeper added.

Overall, Kutler’s performance represents a bigger accomplishment for the Red Bulls.

“Right now, it seems like no matter who Jesse puts in,” Robles said, “the clarity that he’s instilled within the group, and of course, the confidence that exudes from this group, we feel like we’re going to get a result no matter who we play against.”

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