D.C. United Selects Nick DeLeon In First Round Of 2012 MLS Draft

D.C. United selected Louisville midfielder Nick DeLeon with the seventh overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft (via MLSsoccer.com)

With the seventh overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, D.C. United selected Louisville senior Nick DeLeon. DeLeon, a versatile attacking midfielder who can also play up front, is originally from Phoenix, AZ. DeLeon has already signed a contract with MLS.

DeLeon, whose father Leroy played for the Washington Diplomats and was an international for Trinidad & Tobago, was the star player for a Louisville Cardinals team that went on a somewhat surprising run to the Elite Eight. As a professional, DeLeon figures to appear most often at left midfield, but can also play wide on the right, through the middle as a central attacking midfielder, and even as a withdrawn forward.

DeLeon's best quality as a player is his soccer IQ, which is as good as any player in the 2012 draft pool. DeLeon has an instinctive understanding of space and moves very well off the ball, which means he always seems like he has time on the ball. His skill on the ball is also very strong, both on the dribble and as a passer. As a wide man, he'll likely look to cut inside and play through balls for onrushing attackers more often than hooking in crosses like an old-school winger.

My quick reaction is to ignore the angry reaction on Twitter and the Combine-based criticism from Taylor Twellman. DeLeon has good skill even amongst his first-round peers and is as smart as any player on the board. While he was not at the top of my list at the moment of truth, he was firmly second in my mind, with a large gap between him and the rest of our possible targets.

DeLeon addresses a real need for United. Chris Pontius and Andy Najar are stellar wingers, but DC has absolutely no depth behind them right now. With the possibility of both of those players being occasionally used as a forward, as well as DeLeon's ability to shift up there, means some major holes in terms of depth were filled with this pick. DeLeon will likely make regular appearances as a sub from the hour mark as early as the first game of the season.

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