Far from his family, Toronto FC midfielder Nick DeLeon goes his own way

“It’s the best part of my day here – coming here and training. That’s what I live for, ”DeLeon said.

After the unknowns of 2020 and not knowing how long the team could stay in Orlando this season due to border restrictions linked to the pandemic, DeLeon said the decision has been made to move his wife and children to Arizona. , although they visited him in Florida three times.

“She has a job (in Arizona). The kids are in school and they just had a good routine, ”he said. “I don’t want to ruin this. And I will join them in three, four months.

He may not be back. His contract with Toronto expires after this season.

In March, DeLeon said he had no plans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’ve never had a vaccine, I don’t get a flu shot. I don’t do any of that, ”he said at the time. “I don’t take drugs, I don’t take prescription shit, none of that. It’s my personal choice and it’s the way I choose to live my life. And I won’t change that for anyone

“I know who I am and I trust him.

Today, he is part of the tiny minority in Major League Soccer not to be vaccinated,

“It definitely made my life harder, but I knew it from the start,” DeLeon said. “There is nothing strange.

A so-called “national interest exemption” recently obtained by MLS and its three Canadian teams means players and staff like DeLeon who aren’t fully vaccinated can cross the border on a modified quarantine. This basically allows him to train and play.

“That’s all I have to do at this point… I don’t need to go party, I don’t need to do all of this. I am in direct grind mode. Finish as hard as I can for three or four months and then join my family. And that’s strictly where my state of mind is.

During TFC’s time south of the border, DeLeon was open about the mental toll it took to be away from home. He is home now, but without his family some of the same challenges remain.

“There are good days and bad days… but the majority are good days,” he said. “But I’ll have a day or two a week when it’s heavy. I really miss my family.

“But right now everyone has stuff,” he added. “I have roommates at home who are going through the same thing, their families are back in Russia or elsewhere. There are so many people going through this right now.

DeLeon said he knows what he plans to do after this season, although he’s not yet ready to share it.

“I’m not retiring,” he said.

Reading between the lines, his future seems elsewhere, DeLeon said he has been treated well by the TFC.

“The only thing that has been different is the changes in the world,” he said. “And they have to comply.

“My time here with Toronto has been incredible. And the treatment they gave me, before and after COVID, is above and beyond. It’s that simple. I know they do everything they can to make life as easy and easy as possible. I know they go out of their way to do it. I have no complaints about this ending.

The DeLeon, 31, in his 10th season in MLS, has appeared in 11 games this season but has made just four starts and had limited playing time under coach Javier Perez. He has a goal.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 12, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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