24 Under 24 (2012): #16 Nick DeLeon (IMAGE)
Gabriel de los Rios / MLSsoccer.com

24 Under 24: #16 Nick DeLeon, DC United

16. Nick DeLeon

Pos: M | D.C. United | Age: 22

DeLeon sure didn’t look like a rookie earlier this season. The No. 7 overall selection in the 2012 SuperDraft played like an expert pro for D.C. United: knowing where to be and what to do with the ball while scoring goals from wide midfield that rookies aren’t supposed to score. It all came easy to him, until it didn’t any more. First it was an injury, then a loss of form and the dreaded rookie wall. But DeLeon, the son of a former Trinidadian star, has shown a mental toughness in rolling with the punches and regaining his starting spot. The MLS Cup Playoffs, the MLS Rookie of the Year award and a new D.C. United rookie scoring record are up for grabs.

What the TDs and coaches like: “Nick is a very, very talented player … Great 1-v-1 … Works extremely hard on both sides of the ball … Has had a very good rookie season, has the ability to get on the end of service … He’s very smart, takes good spots inside the box … He’s got tremendous upside. Very good athlete, great work rate … Very good vision, can create own shot and make final passes as well … He’s got the flair for the brilliance once in awhile but he can pull it off … He does a lot of the simple things correct in terms of taking balls on and dishing them off, running in behind … He’s only going to get better … He’s got an ability to score and set them up. He’s got a pretty complete package … He has some speed and size and he’s very opportunistic. He knows where to go … He anticipates and sees things before they happen … Good wide player … Got a good engine … He has some versatility. He could end up playing somewhere else, but he can definitely cause some issues as a wide player. If all else fails, he'll have a home there. ... He's been a solid pickup for D.C. He's definitely someone you have to keep an eye on when he's on the field. To say that about any rookie is a good thing.”

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: “He’s got a lot of great qualities, but for him it’s about finding consistency and maintaining that game in and game out … Service with left foot could be a problem … Finishing a few more plays would be an area of improvement, scoring a goal or making that final pass more often … He needs to improve his left foot … He can be a little bit better in tight spaces but overall is a very good player … Tactically, positioning-wise, in regards to the rest of the team and the line that he's playing on, he needs to be more connected.”

Opta Says: Of players younger than 24 with more than 20 total shots attempted, Nick DeLeon has the highest goals-to-shots ratio (23.8 percent) in MLS this year.


Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Fan Ranking: #15
Castrol Index (as of 9/11/12): #35

2012 Stats
Matches played: 21
Matches started: 18
Goals: 5
Assists: 4

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