Mike DeShields is coming back home to play professional soccer after being drafted with the No. 5 overall pick by D.C. United in the MLS SuperDraft Jan. 21.
DeShields, an athletic 6-foot-1 center back out of Wake Forest University, didn’t play for the Demon Deacons this past fall due to a neck injury. DeShields signed with the New England Revolution II of US League One in November but never played in a game with the Revolution.
DeShields’ new home at Audi Field is not far away from where he grew up in Baltimore.
“The feeling is incredible,” DeShields said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 25. “I was talking to my mom and she was crying about because she was like, ‘I will never miss a game, I will be there at every game.'”
A 2016 graduate of McDonogh, DeShields credits a lot of his growth and development as a player to the time he spent playing in the Baltimore area. DeShields joins the likes of Jacori Hayes and A.J. DeLaGarza as players who grew up in the DMV and made it to the MLS in recent years.
“When you want to play at a high level, you want to go to a school that gives you that, and McDonogh does that for you,” DeShields said. “They produce a lot of athletes in a lot of different sports.”
During his time at McDonogh, DeShields enjoyed a lot of success as a four-year starter, winning two MIAA A Conference championships along the way. He was also named one of the MIAA’s players of the decade, an honor former Eagles George Campbell, Mike Gamble and Connor Smith received as well.
DeShields attributes a lot of the success of the program — along with his personal development during his time at McDonogh — to one man within the program.
“I’ve got to give it to Brandon Quaranta,” DeShields said. “He’s very good at what he does and he knows where very good talents are.”
Quaranta, the head coach at McDonogh since 2014, led DeShields and the rest of the Eagles to a 21-0-1 record in 2015. He has coached the team to four MIAA A Conference championships during his seven years with the program.
DeShields’ growth in the game occurred well before high school, too. Growing up, he played against teams that were part of the D.C. United Academy, and he had some matchups with new teammate Donovan Pines, a defender for D.C. United since 2019.
“I’ve been playing against D.C. United all through high school and middle school as well,” DeShields said. “So I kind of had a little bit of a rivalry with the D.C. Academy. And Donny Pines is one of those guys that we were matching up against all throughout.”
Playing against the D.C. United Academy and high school players in the DMV, DeShields has big support in coming back home to his friends, family and past opponents.
“I guess the D.C. United fan base just got a lot bigger,” DeShields said.
DeShields has not stepped on the pitch in a competitive game since he got hurt in an exhibition against Pitt in September, but he’s determined to not let this chance pass him by. Major League Soccer has not announced a 2021 schedule yet, but DeShields says he is excited and ready to come back home and join his new team.
“As great as this opportunity is, it doesn’t mean anything if I’m not prepared to step on the field for preseason when it comes,” DeShields said.
For more from DeShields, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics