Philadelphia Union draftee profiles: Marcus Epps & Aaron Jones

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Last week, Earnie Stewart and Jim Curtin were in Los Angeles watching the MLS combine games. One right side of one team impressed head coach Jim Curtin so much that he said: “I’ll take that whole right side.” He said this as a joke,  but a few days later that is exactly what happened. The Union traded their third round draft pick, an $50,000 to Minnesota United to move up to the 25th pick. With that pick, they chose University of South Florida winger Marcus Epps. 7 picks later the Union chose Clemson right back Aaron Jones. The two showed good qualities at the combine, and seemed to develop some chemistry together. Here are the Union draftee profiles of Marcus Epps and Aaron Jones.

 Marcus Epps: USF player profile

Marcus Epps 1449140

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 155
Year: Senior
Hometown: Jackson, Miss.
High School: North HS (Downers Grove)
Club: Chicago Fire U-18 Academy
Experience: 3 Letters
Epps has the makings of a dynamic winger. He’s tall, fast, and has ability to create on the ball. One quality that makes him a perfect fit for the Philadelphia is his ability to cut inside to create chances. An aspect of Jim Curtin’s teams has been wingers that can cut inside; think Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, Sebastien Le Toux, etc. All of these players have done well in the Union’s formation because of this ability and it is one Epps can contribute to this team. Epps can help the Union on the wing, but how did do at the collegiate level?
At the University of South Florida, Epps numbers on his first three seasons were phenomenal. He played in every game; starting 64% of the games. He played both right-wing and left-wing; Epps has the ability to play both sides of the field and bring a high intensity to the game! His interplay is something I’m sure sold Earnie and Jim. He loves to run the wing, get on the ball, work give and go’s down the sideline. All the while looking for ways to get his team to score. He may not score a lot, but he has a cannon, and is a very good at passing into dangerous areas.
Right Now Epps is coming in to compete with Ilshino and Herbers on the right, and Pontius on the left. I don’t know if he’ll take a starting spot over any of those players, but he could fit nicely as left-wing depth for Chris Pontius.  Epps will come in and have a decent preseason. He will be competing for a back up role with the squad all season. He should get some good playing minutes with Bethlehem Steel, and should feature for the Union in some early US Open Cup games. If he is a standout in preseason, then I think he could make the 18!
Here is a highlight reel of Marcus Epps:

 Aaron Jones: Clemson player profile

Aaron Jones 2378947

Position: Defender
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 160
Year: Senior
Hometown: Great Yarmouth, U.K.
Major: Economics

 

Jones has the potential to be a star in MLS. A tenacious right back who loves to go forward is something all 22 teams in MLS covet. Philadelphia has had success in recent years when their outside backs can move forward, and have had problems when the backs don’t push up so well. Jones is very good going forward, and has the pace and ferociousness to track back and win tackles when possession is lost. Jones also is a free kick specialist. He has a nasty shot from a free kick, and can also play a looping ball into the box. Not many right backs have that specialty. Jones looks like a Union player for years to come, but how did he fair in the college game?

His first two years of college Soccer came a Georgia State. He played 36 matches for the GSU Panthers racking up 3,145 minutes played in two seasons. He transferred to Clemson his junior year in 2015. That year he played 17 games. Made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, and had one goal which happened to make SportCenter’s top play. This years stats aren’t posted on Clemson’s site, but he did have a phenomenal year, as his highlight video shows below. Jones is a unique player, and one that could make Earnie Stewart’s and Jim Curtin’s jobs harder.

Jones is coming into the Union competing with a whole lot of players. The right back spot has Rosenberry and Gaddis ahead of him; the left back spot has Wijnaldum and Fabinho ahead of him. That being said I  think Jones is too good to be less than a back up. Which is why I think two things could happen with Jones’ development with the Union. Either the Union move Ray Gaddis to another team, or maybe try to move Jones to compete for the box-to-box midfielder role. Jones has the skill set to be a box-to-box midfielder; he’s fast, a tenacious defender, and a long distance shooter. Who knows, maybe that could happen?

Of those two scenarios, I think the Union will go with moving Gaddis, possibly for a box-to-box midfielder, instead of developing the young right back in a different position. Only time will tell what the Union do with Aaron Jones, but he has the looks of a great MLS defender.

Here is a highlight reel of Aaron Jones:

The Union filled two more spots of need in the draft, but still aren’t done rounding out this team! There could be a potential move in the works based on a trade made by the New York Red Bull’s of all teams! We’ll leave that story till later. Make sure to come back to Philly Sports Network later in the week to see what the Union could be doing to round out the squad even more. Also be on the lookout for an in-depth look at the Union’s 2017 opponents later in the week. Until then, peace out Union fans.

 

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