MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Season two of the Memphis 901 FC era begins at home March 7 versus the vaunted Indy Eleven.
The 901 FC return nine players from last season. Sporting Director Tim Howard is now at the forefront of preparations.
Howard usurped the role in early January, and since the announcement, the former United States Men’s National Team legend spearheaded the signing of eight players.
Defender Zach Carrol
The 25-year-old centerback is an experienced USL defender. He is primarily a ball-winning physical defender, but he possesses the ability to drive up field and feather a lofted pass onto the foot of an attacker.
Carrol was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in 2016. He played the 2016 season in the USL with NYRB II, where he won the USL Cup and earned USL All-League Second Team honors.
He most recently played for Reno 1868. Carrol made 50 appearances for Reno across the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He scored three goals and added two assists over the two seasons.
Carrol adds experience and physicality to the 901 FC’s backline.
Midfielder Rafael Mentzingen
Mentzingen joins the 901 FC after a six-goal season at the Lansing Ignite of the USL League One.
The 23-year-old was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and moved to the United States in 2015 in order to pursue college soccer.
The attacking midfielder scored 33 goals across two seasons in college.
Mentzingen played semi-professional from 2016-18 and eventually broke through at the professional level with the Ignite.
After signing with Lansing, the Brazilian was drafted 90th overall in the MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew. He played out the 2019 season with Lansing and agreed to return to Columbus for the 2020 preseason.
After the 2019 season, Memphis swooped in and made a deal with the Crew, with Columbus owning his player rights until the end of the 2020 season.
Mentzingen is similar to Pierre da Silva in that they both enjoy the ball at their feet and thrive through one-two passes.
Forward Keanu Marsh-Brown
Marsh-Brown is unlike most of the other signings in that he made his name in English professional football.
The 27-year-old winger graduated from Fulham’s academy. He signed his first professional contract in 2009.
After Fulham, Marsh-Brown played in essentially every tier of English professional football.
From 2011-19 he played for Milton Keynes Dons, Dundee United, Oldham Athletic, Yeovil Town, Barnet, Forrest Green Rovers, Dover Athletic, and most recently Newport County.
The pacey winger also plays International football for Guyana.
He brings experience and creativity to 901 FC’s forward line.
Marsh-Brown is the type of winger that thrives on one-v-one scenarios and possesses the skill to create goals out of nothing.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Hague
Jeff Caldwell left a hole between the pipes after a standout 2019 season. Howard identified the disparity and supplemented the goalkeeping depth chart with Jimmy Hague.
Hague started all 62 games his last three seasons at Michigan State University (2015-2018). During his senior season, Hague was named United Soccer Coaches Second-Team All-North Region and Second-Team All-Big 10.
The goalkeeper was then drafted 30th overall in the MLS SuperDraft by FC Cincinnati.
He appeared on the bench in 34 matches and was waived by the team in January.
Howard saw the opportunity, after Hague was waived and signed him on a free transfer.
Midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi
Koffi was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and moved to the U.S. in 2009.
He began his career in D.C. United’s academy and played for NCAA powerhouse Virginia in 2015-17.
He was a mainstay on Virginia’s roster and started 40 matches over two seasons.
MLS-side New York Red Bulls signed Koffi in 2018.
The 22-year-old made his first professional debut for New York Red Bulls II in 2019.
Koffi does not have abundant professional experience, but after a standout college career, his skills are evident.
The midfielder can play box-to-box, or he can take on a predominantly attacking midfield role.
He has the ability to dribble past defenders and score from distance, something Memphis lacked in 2019.
Defender Mark Segbers
The right-back joins Memphis after a season with USL rivals Swope Park Rangers.
The St. Louis native played college soccer for NCAA powerhouse Wisconsin. He was a standout player at the NCAA level and was drafted ninth overall by MLS-side New England Revolution in 2018.
Segbers appeared once for New England and was subsequently loaned out to Orange County SC in the same season.
The do-it-all fullback impressed in his first USL season.
Segbers opted to stay in the USL for the 2019 season and joined SPR, where he accrued 1944 minutes over a 30-match span.
He will likely start at right-back for Memphis due to lack of depth at the position.
Segbers is primarily an attacking defender. He possesses the ability to beat players off the dribble and whip in crosses.
Midfielder, Jose Baxter
Baxter, like Marsh-Brown, made his name in English professional football.
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder singed for European giants, Everton when he was seven.
In 2008 he became Everton’s youngest player (16 years, 191 days) to feature in a match.
Baxter remained with Everton, with a loan spell at Tranmere Rovers in between, until he signed for Oldham Athletic in 2012.
He subsequently signed for Sheffield Untied in 2013 and was a Sheffielder until 2016.
From 2012-16 Baxter scored 35 goals in 136 appearances for Sheffield and Oldham.
During those years Baxter struggled with depression and was suspended due to consecutive drug tests.
Everton’s chairman gave Baxter a lifeline in 2017, in way of a contract.
In an interview with the BBC, Baxter discusses what the signing meant to him.
“I needed to get fit and getting back into a routine of going to the gym was great for me,” Baxter said, to the BBC Sport.
“I have never looked back since.”
Baxter is more than a comeback story; he is a world class footballer.
The playmaker’s standout run came from 2013-16 with Sheffield United.
He scored 23 goals for the blades over the course of three seasons.
Baxter will likely take spot kicks for Memphis, as it is one of his specialties.
He is effective as a center attacking midfielder and possesses a surgical right foot.
Baxter provides a level of skill and experience that is unprecedented in 901 FC’s brief history.
Forward, Matt Hundley
Hundley broke into the United States soccer scene after a dominant season at UCLA.
In 2018, during his freshman year at UCLA, he was statistically the best player on the roster.
Hundley recorded team highs or co-highs in goals (five), game-winning goals (two), assists (seven), points (17) and shots (46).
He subsequently secured a spot on the USMNT U-19’s roster.
The forward left UCLA after one year.
He signed his first professional contract for the Colorado Rapids, as a Homegrown Player in January 2019.
Hundley spent the 2019 season on loan at the Colorado Switchbacks (USL).
The Rapids decided the youngster needed further professional experience before he made the transition to the MLS.
Howard identified that quick wingers were needed on the 901 FC’s roster and transacted a one-year loan deal with the Rapids.
After Lagos Kunga returned to Atlanta from his loan with Memphis, head coach Mulqueen needed to replace him with another rapid forward.
Hundley’s ability to out-pace and out-dribble opposing defenders is at a 25-year-old forward’s level, but he is 19.
The winger must earn a spot on the starting roster in pre-season first, but he will likely start/play many matches for Mulqueen in 2020.
The 901 FC’s roster now consists of 19 players.
WREG is working to learn more about two more players signed, Jose Baxter and Matt Hundley. Check back with this story for updates.
Memphis commences the 2020 USL season at home March 7 against the Indy Eleven.