As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
One of 10 academy products on Sporting Kansas City’s roster, 19-year-old Cam Duke took a unique path to the first team under Manager Peter Vermes. Rather than bridge the gap by plying his trade for Sporting KC II in the USL Championship, the high-energy midfielder jumped straight into the MLS ranks to begin his professional career.
Duke signed for Sporting as a Homegrown Player in the summer of 2019, but a lingering injury that year delayed his professional debut until 2020. Following an early-season stoppage in play due to the pandemic, the U.S. youth international and Overland Park native wasted no time making a positive impression with the first team.
Duke landed his Sporting debut at the MLS is Back Tournament last July, earning praise from Vermes in the process. Despite his lack of professional experience, Duke wound up making nine MLS appearances over the course of the season, including two impressive starts in draws against FC Dallas and Chicago Fire FC. He notably created six scoring chances in just 224 minutes of action as Sporting went 4-2-2 in the eight regular season matches he played.
Duke, who turned 20 years old on Feb. 13, boasts tremendous upside and will set out to eclipse his accomplishments from a solid first season in MLS. Given the depth on Sporting’s roster, the industrious midfielder could also see time at the USL Championship level under Sporting KC II head coach Paulo Nagamura.
In just 221 regular season minutes last year, Duke created six scoring chances at a clip of 2.44 per 90 minutes.
He Said It
“Cam is a quick player and he’s good on the ball. He’s only going up from here. We have a good core group of young guys and it’s showing with all of the Academy products getting on the field more and playing well. I’m happy for him. Hopefully he can get more starts and continue to play well.”
Sporting Manager Peter Vermes following Duke’s strong performance at Chicago Fire FC on Oct. 17, 2020.
Did You Know?
Soccer runs in the Duke family. Cam’s older brother, Christian Duke, is the current captain of Sporting KC II and the club’s all-time leader in USL Championship appearances. Cam’s father, Chris Duke, played indoor for the Kansas City Comets (1989-1991) and Kansas City Attack (1992).