Looking to add players anywhere on the field, D.C. United could have made a number of different moves during Thursday's 2012 MLS SuperDraft in Kansas City.
As it turned out, they only made one. With the seventh overall pick, D.C. elected to select Nick DeLeon, an attacking midfielder from the University of Louisville who has already signed with MLS.
“We’re very excited,” assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s an outstanding player, a real attacking-oriented player. Strong, powerful, he’s been on a very successful college team, and he’s had a lot to do with that.”
DeLeon joins D.C. after two standout seasons with the Cardinals, during which he scored 14 goals and added nine assists. In 2010, he was part of Louisville’s run to the NCAA championship game, where they lost to Akron in the final.
The Arizona native was delighted to join MLS with United.
“I’m honored,” DeLeon told MLSsoccer.com. “They’re a great club with a rich history. I’m just excited to be a part of the future of D.C.”
DeLeon offers more depth on either wing, an added bonus because of uncertainty surrounding the recovery of Chris Pontius’ leg fracture at the end of last season. The team scouted DeLeon closely over the past two seasons and came away impressed by his offensive talents.
“He’s a guy who can really affect the attack,” Ashton said. “He can break a guy down on the dribble, he can get behind with runs. [He] runs well off the ball, he’s a good finisher and can set guys up.”
As of right now, the coaching staff pictures him playing on either wing, but they aim to give him opportunities to play in other attacking areas.
“He can play on either side. He’s versatile in that sense,” Ashton said. “We’ll have to see in regards to the other positions, but for the most part we’ve only seen him wide and he’s done very well there. We feel like he’s a guy who can slide in and is ready right now.”
Sweetening the deal for DeLeon is the fact he is joining a player he admires in Dwayne De Rosario.
“He’s a player I look at in MLS, a player I want to play like,” DeLeon said. “Honestly, to be playing with him now is unbelievable.”