D.C. United's emerging star on taking the field with Zlatan and putting all his eggs in one basket.
- Juan Agudelo
- Jozy Altidore
- Kyle Beckerman
- Tony Beltran
- Austin Berry
- Matt Besler
- Nat Borchers
- Terrence Boyd
- Will Bruin
- Edson Buddle
- Teal Bunbury
- Geoff Cameron
- Edgar Castillo
- Ricardo Clark
- Bobby Convey
- Kenny Cooper
- Joe Corona
- Sam Cronin
- Danny Cruz
- Daniel Cuevas
- Brad Davis
- Nick DeLeon
- Jay DeMerit
- Maurice Edu
- Michael Farfan
- Andrew Farrell
- Greg Garza
- Eddie Gaven
- Luis Gil
- Alan Gordon
- Andy Gruenebaum
- Bill Hamid
- George John
- Sean Johnson
- Benji Joya
- Dan Kennedy
- Perry Kitchen
- Jeff Larentowicz
- Steven Lenhart
- Chad Marshall
- Jack McBean
- Jack McInerney
- Justin Morrow
- Lee Nguyen
- Conor O'Brien
- Amobi Okugo
- Heath Pearce
- Chris Pontius
- Dillon Powers
- Nick Rimando
- Chris Rolfe
- Kelyn Rowe
- Omar Salgado
- C.J. Sapong
- Brek Shea
- Andrew Wenger
- Danny Williams
- Sheanon Williams
- Chris Wondolowski
- Graham Zusi
November 29, 2012
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF SOCCER?
My earliest memory of playing soccer was around four or five, playing with my first team ever in Arizona. I dunno, just kicking the ball around, you know? Running around, kicking the ball, not knowing what I’m doing, just having fun. Mom and dad both played, sister played, so it’s pretty much in the DNA, I guess.
WHO WAS YOUR SOCCER HERO GROWING UP?
I really didn’t have many, didn’t look up to anybody, no. It was just always my dream to play for the U.S. team, but I didn’t really aspire to be anybody. I loved watching Manchester United, Wayne Rooney back in the day. He was one of my favorites.
DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE SUITING UP FOR THE U.S.
[DeLeon has not yet appeared for the U.S.]
WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A SOCCER PLAYER?
Work ethic. Just go out there and give it everything you have at every moment. That’s the biggest quality I admire.
WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST DISLIKE IN AN OPPONENT?
Laziness. I can’t stand lazy players who think they’re too good to pretty much do work.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SOCCER SUCCESS?
For me, it’s confidence and hard work. If I go out there and I work as hard as I can, I know it’ll come out alright on the other side. Hard work and confidence—just the belief to get at defenders and the belief in my ability, pretty much. Those are the two biggest things.
WHAT IS ONE SOCCER SKILL YOU WANT TO IMPROVE?
Finishing. That’s one area in my game I need to step up. Just getting cleaner shots on goal, more shots on target, and scoring more goals.
WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT?
Probably my youth coach, Jorge Garré. He had the biggest impact for sure. He was a club coach—I had him, I think, for eight or nine years.
WHO IS YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND IN THE GAME?
His name is Travis [Campbell]. He was my friend growing up, since I was a little boy. He plays right now at the University of New Mexico. He’s a senior there, so hopefully he’ll be in this league next year. That’s his dream, anyway.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER ACHIEVEMENT?
I’d say making it to the professional level.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER DISAPPOINTMENT?
My junior year in college, losing the national championship to [D.C. United teammates] Perry [Kitchen] and [Chris] Korb, Akron, that squad. That was a heartbreaker.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU LEARNED FROM THE GAME?
To do the right things, I guess. To be as successful as I can on the field. I make sure I try and line up the things I do off the field to reflect that success. I’ve never really thought of that. That’s a good question.
WHO ARE THE MOST TALENTED TEAMMATES YOU HAVE PLAYED ALONGSIDE?
I’d have to say Dwayne [De Rosario]. He’s got some talent, that’s for sure. He can do some crazy things.
WHO ARE THE TOUGHEST OPPONENTS YOU HAVE LINED UP AGAINST?
I’d say playing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was pretty crazy. That was a wild experience. That dude is a strong guy. He’s very tough to play against.
IF YOU WEREN'T A PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
I threw all my eggs into one basket [laughs]. I’m working on the graduation [from University of Louisville] right now. I’d see myself somewhere around the game still—coaching or doing personal training, whatever. Something around soccer, definitely.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS IN THE GAME?
Success for me is just really going out there and leaving it all on the field. If you can look back and you know you had no regrets in that game or in that practice, then you’ve had, in my opinion, a successful game, successful practice.