Midfielder Marcus Epps waited a long time to make his Major League Soccer debut and even though it was brief, the Union rookie was thrilled to get his feet wet, so to speak.
Epps replaced Ilsinho in the 83rd minute of Saturday's 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake.
"It was wonderful, an amazing experience and an honor to get out there with the guys," Epps said. "It was a tough result but other than that, it was a dream come true."
Epps made a good first impression on coach Jim Curtin.
"I was really happy for Marcus," Curtin said. "I told him to go out there and be fearless and he did that."
The 22-year-old Epps played 75 games in four seasons at the University of South Florida. He is among the fastest players on the Union squad.
Whether can earn more playing time, still remains to be seen, but the Union (4-5-4) will be short in the midfield when they visit New York City FC (6-5-3) 1 p.m. Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
The Union are without Fabian Herbers, who will miss his second game with a groin injury. In addition, Alejandro Bedoya will miss the game while with the U.S. national team for a friendly on Saturday to prepare for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
"With the injury to Fabian, he has an opportunity to step in and perform and he has done that," Curtin said of Epps. "I think it is only going to be more and more minutes the way he is playing."
The Union didn't own a first-round pick and thought enough about Epps to trade up for him in the second round of the MLS draft. They sent their second round pick (42nd overall) and $50,000 in General Allocation Money to Minnesota for its second round pick, 25th overall.
Epps wasn't expected to make an immediate contribution due to the midfield depth, but has stayed sharp by appearing in seven games for the Bethlehem Steel, the Union's United Soccer League affiliate.
"It has kept me game-fit, sharp and the intensity is good," Epps said about competing for the Steel. "It's a great use other than practice and I have been enjoying that as well."
Of course, he would enjoy seeing more time with the varsity.
"I would like to be playing a lot for the team and hopefully I can one day be a starter," Epps said. "Right now, I am doing all I can to help the team win."
Saturday, 1 p.m., at Yankee Stadium
Records: Union (4-5-4, 16 points), NYC FC (6-5-3, 21 points)
Coaches: Union, Jim Curtin (32-41-26); NYC FC, Patrick Vieira (21-15-12).
Union on the road: 1-3-2
NYC FC at home: 3-1-2.
Goals: Union, 19; NYC FC, 25.
Goals against: Union, 16, NYC FC 18.
Last game: The Union lost at Real Salt Lake on Saturday, 1-0. NYC FC played visiting New England to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.
All-time series: NYC FC leads 3-2-1.
Last meeting: NYC FC won 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium on April 14.
About the Union: Defender Fabinho appeared in his 100th game with the Union against RSL, becoming the seventh player in team history to achieve this total. . . . Union keeper Andre Blake has five shutouts. . . . Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya will miss the game while with the U.S. national team, playing a friendly on Saturday in Utah against Venezuela as preparation for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers. . . . After missing three games with a quadriceps injury, midfielder Roland Alberg returned last week against RSL and entered in the 71st minute. . . . C.J. Sapong has a team-high eight goals, while Chris Pontius leads the team with six assists. . . . Midfielder Derrick Jones will miss his fifth consecutive game while competing for the U.S. in the U-20 World Cup. . . . Midfielder Fabian Herbers will miss his second game with a groin injury. . . . Midfielder Haris Medunjanin will play on Saturday and then depart to join the Bosnian national team to prepare for a World Cup qualifier against Greece.
About NYC FC: Forward Rodney Wallace (4 goals, 3 assists) will miss the game having left to prepare for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for Costa Rica. . . . Defender Ronald Matarrita is not expected to play due to a high right ankle sprain. . . . Jack Harrison scored his sixth goal of the season in the draw on Wednesday and he has scored in consecutive games. . . . Miguel Camargo scored his first goal of the season against New England. . .NYC FC allowed the equalizer against New England in the 86th minute, the first time this season it has conceded a goal in the final 15 minutes. . . . Reigning MLS MVP David Villa had two assists against New England and has totaled eight goals and six assists in 13 games.