There are few good teams that fly under the radar quite as much as the Indiana Pacers. The team has been consistently solid for the past decade, but outside of a couple trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, they have not been seen as a serious threat come playoff time. With each of the Pacers' last five seasons ending in...
Deri Corfe is Built Different
There's a saying going around nowadays that some people are, "built different." It's one of those statements that doesn't really have a clear definition but if you're in the know, you know that it stands as a place holder to recognize someone who operates at an elite level. Deri Corfe is built different.
On January 9th, 2020, a dream came true when Deri Corfe was selected by the New York Red Bulls in the MLS draft. It marked the culmination of 4 dominant years of college soccer, but just 4 years before that, the future did not look so clear.
4 years before the draft, in 2016, Deri was let go by the Manchester City Academy. Since that day, the rise of Deri Corfe has seen him leave a mark at every level.
Born in Blacon, Chester, a suburban city in England, Deri joined the Manchester City academy at the age of 12. It was only about an hour from home, but more importantly it meant joining the academy of one of the biggest teams in the world.
Over the next 6 years, the experience would shape Deri into the player and man he is today.
Joining a professional academy is intimidating at any level, but especially so when joining an academy notorious for their world class facilities and expertise in player development.
Manchester City would eventually release Deri at age 18, but not before he had soaked up years of experience as to what it would take to reach the next level. The United States College Soccer system looked like a golden opportunity to earn an education while competing at a high level. So, the University of Rio Grande would be the next stop, a small university in a small town in Ohio, with a very powerful NAIA soccer program coming off a National Championship.
He was undersized for his age, which hindered his success at Manchester City. A late developer, Deri would need to grow into his own physically before taking the next step as an athlete. With each coming year, Deri became potential realized as he topped what the last year brought.
2016: Comes off the bench for a Rio Grande team that narrowly loses the national championship game.
2016 was the first glimpse into what Deri would become, registering 6 goals and an assist despite coming off the bench for most of the season. Deri was a freshman on a veteran team that won the National Championship the year before, but was trusted to make an impact off the bench.
Summer of 2017: Reaching new heights
May 17, 2017. Deri Corfe leads FC Wichita, a semi-professional team to a historic near-upset of St Louis FC, a professional team, in the US Open Cup, the American version of the English FA Cup. Deri's 25-yard screamer in the 81st minute gave the team a 3-2 lead in a performance that would land him on professional radars for the first time since leaving England. FC Wichita would go on to lose 4-3 but Corfe had left his mark.
Deri would then follow that up with a sophomore season at Rio Grande that saw him finish the season as the team's co-leader in points despite missing a handful of games.
2018: New Challenges
While Rio Grande was a dominant team, it did not represent college soccer at the highest level. A transfer to a Division 1 school was next, which meant competing at the highest level of college soccer. Many teams came but Wright State stood out, a university in Ohio with a coaching staff that made a good impression.
Deri then helps Wright State to a 13-win season, the most the school had seen since 1992 and the first regular season conference championship in school history. Unfortunately, the season would end on a bad note with a loss in the conference championship game, meaning no automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2019: Enter the Matrix
With senior season coming up, it was clear Deri was operating with a mindset of pure focus fueled by the need to take the next step into professional ranks.
In the summer of 2019, while competing for the Ocean City Nor'easters, Deri Corfe wins the PDL player of the season while finishing as the league's joint top scorer. In the country's most competitive summer developmental league, Deri was named the most valuable of all players.
He would then follow that up by showing up when it mattered most for Wright State.
In his final collegiate season, 3 goals between the semifinal and final stages of the conference tournament, including 1 in the final, meant Wright State would avenge the disappointment of 2018 and would be heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the school's 51-year history.
Deri was in the Matrix, he could not be stopped.
Enter the NCAA Tournament and a game against national powerhouse, Notre Dame at Notre Dame. A team that was on the back of its 8th straight tournament appearance, a quarter final berth the year before, and a national championship in 2013.
90 minutes later, Wright State would be moving on to the next round thanks to a clutch performance from Deri, contributing a goal and an assist in the 3-2 victory.
A loss in penalty shootouts in the next round meant Deri finished the season with 14 goals, the most for Wright State in 34 years, and 36 points, the most in 39 years.
So, when the New York Red Bulls made their selection in the 2020 draft, it came as a testament to the four years of monumental growth and improvement Deri has showed year after year. Only time will tell what the next year of growth will look like for Deri Corfe.
Everything happens for a reason and for Deri, an end at Manchester City meant a beginning in the United States. For a man that's called Ohio, Kansas, and New Jersey home at different times, New York City is a new home for the kid from Blacon, Chester.