“I’m a really creative guy. I like to be on the ball, like to make things happen. That’s my game, trying to make plays for myself and teammates.”
That statement from Danny Deakin couldn’t be more true thanks to an incredible career that includes two major universities and two very successful NPSL clubs. And he isn’t done yet.
Deakin, who hails from Sheffield, England, started his American soccer journey in the summer of 2013 with the NPSL’s Erie Admirals. He and the Admirals would enjoy an incredible run of form, only falling in the national semifinal to eventual champions RVA FC. That was their third national semifinal in five years, a massive accomplishment for the one of the league’s oldest and most successful programs.
The talented midfielder would continue his winning ways in the collegiate game with Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. The awards and goals would flow during his two seasons with the Lakers. He was a two-time first-team Daktronics All-American, two-time first-team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, two-time ECAC All-Star, and two-time NSCAA All-Atlantic Region player. He started all 45 games of his career at Mercyhurst, registering a massive 24 goals and 23 assists. In 2014 he would actually lead all of NCAA Division II in assists per game (0.73) and total assists (16).
Deakin would return to the Admirals, now rebranded as the Commodores, for the summer of 2015. He would lead Erie with seven goals and six assists.
Deakin would get an opportunity to move on to the University of South Carolina in the fall of 2015. He would make an immediate impact there, starting all 21 matches in the Gamecocks’ midfield. The awards and goals continued to accumulate as Deakin was named First-Team All-Conference USA and First-Team NSCAA All-Southeast Region after leading South Carolina in both goals (11) and points (24). Those totals would also be good enough for him to rank second in Conference USA in goals and third in points. He would be named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week twice and the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week once.
He also got the job done in the classroom, being named to the 2015 C-USA Academic Honor Roll and 2015 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. It’s easy to say that Deakin was getting noticed, noticed in a big way.
He would continue to play in the NPSL in 2016, choosing to spend the summer under the bright lights of Keyworth Stadium and Detroit City FC.
“The crowds were one of the reasons I went there. It’s unbelievable really; they were getting like 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 fans to games. It’s really unbelievable. It was a big part of why I chose to go to Detroit. It was a great experience playing in front of those fans; it geared me towards playing in a professional environment. It was brilliant.”
Deakin enjoyed every moment of his three NPSL seasons, but this summer stood out as a special experience.
“Detroit’s always been a really good team; I played against them a few times before I went there. They’re a really good NPSL team. I played with a great bunch of players; the coaching staff were really good. I feel like I learned a lot in my time there. It’s definitely prepared me for the season. I’ve come back really fit and raring to go. So it was a good experience and I’m glad I chose to go there.”
Spending time in the NPSL helped Deakin prepare for his senior season with the Gamecocks, a time of great expectation for both player and program. South Carolina head coach Mark Berson was impressed with Deakin’s performance in 2015 and was looking forward to an even better 2016 season.
“Danny is a dynamic attacking player who can both create and finish scoring chances. He was our leading scorer last year and he will be a player we will count on to ignite our attack this year.”
Commodores owner John Melody was also very high on Deakin’s skill set, saying that he was a good finisher, someone who could make plays off the dead ball, and was very productive in an advanced position. Throw in the fact that he is a natural left-footed player and you literally have the complete package.
The excitement surrounding Deakin’s potential came to its peak when he was named to the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, an honor reserved for only the best of the best.
Despite the national attention, Deakin remains grounded and focused on the task ahead.
“It’s always nice to be honored with that sort of stuff. It is really good and I hope that by the end of the season I will still be on that list. I hope that I do have a good season. It doesn’t really change anything. I go about my business the same every year, trying to score as many goals and assists as I can get and help the team. Hopefully we can have a really good year this season.”
Deakin is already off to a great start this fall, tallying a goal and two assists in just three regular season games. He was also on target in the preseason, registering a goal and an assist in three exhibition matches.
Deakin is likely to be among the top prospects for January’s MLS SuperDraft, something that will help him reach the next level of the beautiful game.
“Obviously my long-term goal has always been the same, to play professional soccer.”
Deakin, an NPSL product from start to finish, is just months away from achieving this goal and reaching his dream. He is doing the league proud in a very big way.