Last December, the New York Red Bulls traded up to acquire Marcus Epps with the first pick in the MLS Waiver Draft. The move was low-risk but, in a deafeningly quiet off-season, carried with it some added hope and expectation.
Today, however, the club announced Epps will be loaned to USL Championship side Memphis 901 FC for the remainder of the season.
“Marcus has worked hard since signing with us in the off-season, and we wish him the best in Memphis,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said.
The statement was short and sweet, much like the 24-year-old winger’s time on the field with the first team (three appearances for a total 109 minutes). Epps instead found his niche with Red Bulls II, where he made 18 appearances and was second in assists (4) and tied for seventh in goals (2).
He now makes a lateral move to an Eastern Conference counterpart in the second-tier Championship, but one that is 23 points off Red Bull II’s pace; no doubt a bittersweet change.
Epps, by all accounts, fit in with the ethos at the club, but seemed to struggle in adjusting to and executing the Red Bulls’ press at the MLS level, following two years in a possession-oriented culture at the Philadelphia Union.
“I was just coming in with an open mind,” Epps said in April. “Looking at the system from the outside, you think you know it, but there’s so many things that go into every decision and every thought on the team.
“So, transitioning was a lot but, I just tried to come in open-minded, ready to learn and ready to help in any way I could.”
It remains to be seen if Epps will return to the Red Bulls. His new club Memphis 901 FC is not far from his hometown of Jackson, Miss., where he lived until the age of 15 before moving to Chicago and joining the Fire’s Academy.