As Sporting Kansas City strives to claw out of a present-day jam, it’s tackling the long-term future.
Sporting has tapped into its academy program for the first time this year, signing 18-year-old midfielder Cameron Duke to a homegrown contract. The agreement will run through the 2022 season, with the club holding an option for 2023.
“Cam is someone I have known his entire life, and he has been in our system for several years,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said in a team news release. “He has worked very hard to reach this goal, and we are glad to see that he has become a part of the Sporting Kansas City first team.”
Duke, the brother of former Sporting KC draft pick Christian Duke, had committed to join the Duke Blue Devils men’s soccer program, with plans to join preseason this fall. The contract signed this week voids those plans.
Although college was potentially on the horizon, the path to Sporting Kansas City is a long time in the making. Duke, a Blue Valley West graduate, joined the club’s academy as a 12-year-old, back when his brother was a member of the senior team.
His progression reached the academy’s under-19 team, though an injury has slowed it. Duke had surgery in December to repair a labral tear in his hip. After rehab, he returned to the field in June with the under-19s and helped them reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy postseason this summer. In the immediacy, he figures to factor into the Swope Park Rangers mix over the remainder of 2019.
“He still has a lot left to accomplish,” Vermes said, “much like all the young players who transition from our academy into the MLS roster. This is the next step in trying to make his professional dreams possible.”
Among the 2019 class, Top Drawer Soccer ranks Duke (5-7, 135) as the nation’s 20th best player. He has been a member of several United States youth national team camps. He plays primarily as an attacking midfielder.
Duke is the team’s first homegrown signing since Tyler Freeman last summer. Freeman scored his first professional goal Wednesday in the Swope Park Rangers’ 4-3 win against Hartford Athletic.