- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon rising to the occasion in playoffs
Rookie has goals in past 2 matches
Question of the Day
Upon joining D.C. United some 10 months ago, Nick DeLeon envisioned himself thriving on the biggest stages MLS has to offer. How quickly such events would transpire, of course, was a mystery. But he was confident it would be soon.
“I really get up for big moments,” the midfielder said. “When there is a lot on the line, that’s when I really come out.”
Fans across the league certainly have learned as much in the past week.
With United and the New York Red Bulls on the verge of overtime in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Thursday, it was DeLeon who buried an 88th-minute strike to clinch the series.
And three days later, the rookie again found net to give United an early lead at Houston, although the Dynamo ultimately walked away with a 3-1 triumph in the first leg of the conference final.
“You don’t know who it’s going to be at this point with our group, and that’s a great thing,” coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a great thing to have different options. If a team focuses on one guy, you have trust someone else can fill in and give you some offensive production. That’s a really good sign.”
During the long summer months, however, DeLeon wasn’t rewarding that faith. After the Louisville product notched three goals and three assists in his first seven games, a combination of injuries and fatigue kept DeLeon from getting his name on the score sheet in United’s subsequent 13 matches.
His touch seemed heavier. His runs from the flank weren’t quite as sharp. And that brazen tenacity faded.
When comparing the nine-month MLS campaign to the four-month college slate DeLeon was accustomed to, it’s not hard to understand why.
“I’m getting used to it,” said DeLeon, who finished the season with six goals in 28 games. “There was a little stretch over the summer when it was getting tough, but now my body is getting acclimated to it, and my legs feel fine. Mentally, I’m here. So I’ve held up pretty well.”
Added second-year midfielder Perry Kitchen: “It happens because it’s your first long season, and you’re getting into it. Nobody had any doubts about him, so let’s hope he can keep up this form because it’s really helping us.”
DeLeon surely will be leaned on Sunday as United try to overcome a two-goal deficit in the home leg of their two-match, total-goals series against Houston.
“It’s a good sign that we have another great young player for the future and foundation of this club, which is still what this is about,” said Olsen, who took over as coach in August 2010. “These last two years have been about creating the foundation that we can consistently make playoffs.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- D.C. plans to seek stay of order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq