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Rising’s Deklan Wynne: It was pretty hard to say no to Phoenix

Deklan Wynne (Twitter Photo/@ColoradoRapids)

Phoenix Rising FC announced the signing of left back Deklan Wynne on Thursdsay.

Wynne is a New Zealand international and spent the last three years with the Colorado Rapids of MLS, appearing in 36 matches in that time.

And although the soon-to-be 26-year-old prefers the left back position, Wynne has already proven that he has the ability to play anywhere across the back four.

“Obviously being left-footed, being at left back or left center back, I feel really comfortable on the ball and playing out, especially at left back,” Wynne said. “Most of my career in Colorado, I played center back, so that really got me used to playing different positions at the back. Obviously right back is a lot similar to left back, but obviously my right foot isn’t as strong as my left.

“So that’s something I had to adapt to, but I think I’m pretty comfortable playing all four positions — even in a back three, which I did quite a lot at Colorado the last couple years.”

That versatility — combined with the skill to play at the MLS and international levels — was exactly what manager Rick Schantz was looking for in what is only the fourth true defender signed to the 2021 roster.

“Deklan is an experienced international left back who will definitely help our team,” Schantz said in a press release. “He is very versatile and has a high soccer IQ. Deklan’s defending, coupled with his quality on the ball will fit perfectly with our style of play.”

And after sustaining a foot injury that has sidelined him for the last year, Wynne said it was a pretty easy decision to join Phoenix Rising when they came calling.

“It was pretty hard [to say no] when I heard they had interest,” Wynne said. “Being one of the best — probably the best team in all of USL, so I’ve known them for quite a while now. I’m very happy to join them.”

But winning isn’t the only thing that attracted Wynne to PRFC — nor should it. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Adam Jahn, Amadou Dia and James Musa use Phoenix as a springboard to get back into MLS, which is where they all were before ever joining Rising.

Now, some fans of other sports in the U.S. may view that as a player using a team to advance their career. And while that may be what they’re doing, that aspect is not necessarily frowned upon in soccer culture.

In fact, seeing a player grow and advance their career to the next level is both expected and sometimes celebrated. And that may be why soccer is one of, if not, the only sport where you’ll consistently see players refuse to celebrate after scoring a goal against their former club.

“I think it’s grown quite a lot,” Wynne said of USL. “You see a lot of players jumping from USL to MLS and I think it’s more than it was [five years ago]. With all the new teams coming in too, it’s only going to get bigger and better for American players — and even giving people as far away as New Zealand an opportunity to play professionally. It’s really good.”

So it should be no surprise to see Phoenix continue to sign top-quality players despite the player turnover, which again is the norm in the sport of soccer.

“Phoenix being one of the best teams in the entire league, I feel it’s the best club I could go to to get exposure and hopefully be seen to make a jump back up to MLS,” Wynne said. “They have a big following and I think most of the teams around the USL know they are the benchmark, one of the best teams. I think it does open a lot of doors going back to the MLS being at such a big club in the USL.”