After wrapping up a spectacular two-year career with South Carolina, Danny Deakin expected to be invited to the MLS SuperDraft combine.
Shockingly, he wasn't.
So, the England native travelled back to his home country to train. While there, Deakin experienced problems with his visa and was delayed getting back to the United States.
During that dilemma, Deakin thought he had an idea which MLS teams were still interested in him. Last year before he graduated, Deakin trained with Columbus. Later, after graduating, he also trained with Toronto and did well with both clubs. So it was reasonable to think that one of those two teams would take a shot at Deakin in the MLS Draft.
However, on Jan. 17 with the 20th pick in the third round, Deakin became Orlando City SC's only selection of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
"I had no idea that Orlando was even interested," Deakin told Spurs & Feathers. "When I saw it was Orlando, I was really surprised."
Deakin joined the first team for preseason camp a little bit late because of his visa problems. Around a week into practice, Deakin experienced a minor injury that caused another setback. When he finally got back, Deakin was forced to play catchup with Orlando's USL team in town.
When he was finally healthy again, Deakin obviously made a difference because a few days before the season began on March 5, the former Gamecock was offered a MLS contract.
"Its been bit of a whirlwind," Deakin said. "But I'm all set now, thankfully."
The contract basically gives Deakin a year to make an impact with a couple of options worked in as well. Orlando City can choose to extend it near the end of the season if they're pleased with Deakin.
If his history is any indication, Deakin will continue to rise through the ranks. He has continuously defied odds to make a tremendous impact everywhere he's been.
Even with all of the setbacks, the majority of which he couldn't control, Deakin still found a way to earn a spot on Orlando City. As a third round MLS SuperDraft pick, that is normally a very difficult thing to do.
"I was just myself," Deakin said of what worked for him. "I've always believed in my ability. I started off at a D-II school, then stepped up to D-I and did that successfully. I'm just taking it in stride. I didn't do anything different from what I was doing in school. I just came in and was confident in my ability. I think they liked what they saw."
Deakin started his career at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, where he was a two-time All-American and led all of Division II in assists during the 2014 season.
He then enrolled at South Carolina and proceeded to immediately make an impact, leading the Gamecocks with 11 goals in his first year with the program. Over the course of two years and 41 games, Deakin racked up 44 points (18 goals, eight assists).
Deakin remains in touch with the coaching staff and players at South Carolina, and is thankful that he chose to be a Gamecock.
"It gave me that platform to be able to be seen by MLS clubs," Deakin said of South Carolina. "The facilities are unbelievable. They gave you every tool necessary to become a better player."
Deakin used those tools to make an impression with his MLS squad, and it ultimately made the difference.
It would've been easy for Orlando City to cut ties with Deakin after his travel and injury problems, but just like he has throughout his entire soccer career, Deakin overcame the odds.
"It's a long season, and a lot of things can happen during a season, but all I can do is work hard every day in training and enjoy the opportunity that I've been given," Deakin said.
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**