Sporting Kansas City’s Homegrown Academy Player Cameron Duke Signs With First Team
New player signings are always exciting, especially when homegrown players are picked up by their First Teams, and it is even more significant when a highly talented player comes back strong after being sidelined from injury to join his hometown MLS team.
Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club has signed 18-year-old midfielder Cameron Duke as a Homegrown Player. Duke has been added to the Sporting Kansas City roster, signing an MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023.
A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Duke becomes the 11th Homegrown Player in club history.
A member of the Sporting Kansas City Academy program since 2012 and a regular with the U.S. Soccer Youth National Teams, Cameron Duke has helped lead Sporting KC academy teams since he first joined the club on the U12 squad. A headliner at Sporting Kansas City Academy, Duke earned the honor of U.S. Soccer Development Academy U17 Central Conference Player of the Year.
Duke has represented the Red White and Blue Youth National teams on the U14, U15, U16 and U18 levels. Duke earned his first of several calls to the U.S. U18 Men’s National Team in November 2017.
Duke trained with Germany’s Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich last July and was planning on attending Duke University to play for head coachJohn Kerr this fall. Duke had his high-level D1 collegiate career planned but the dream of becoming a professional player lingered.
When the opportunity to play for one of the best pro clubs in America happened, it was a real-life dream turned into reality.
“Cam is someone I have known his entire life, and he has been in our system for several years,” Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said. “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 family. He still has a lot left to accomplish, much like all the young players who transition from our Academy into the first team. This is the next step in trying to make his professional dreams possible.”
Wanting to support Cameron Duke’s goal of becoming a pro, collegiate head coach Kerr said, “While, we are obviously disappointed that Cameron is not coming to Duke, we are very supportive of his desire to fulfill his dreams of being a professional soccer player. We will be following his career closely and wish him all the best!.”
“This I truly a special signing as I have known Cam his entire life,” said Jon Parry, Sporting KC Academy Director. “Cam is the first player to come through our entire system. He played recreational and premiership soccer at our affiliate Sporting Blue Valley prior to transitioning to the Academy. It has been incredible to see him matriculate through the pathway. “
How does it feel to be 18 years old and sign a professional last?
“It was an amazing feeling,” said Cameron Duke.
I’ve dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player my whole life and now that I get to do it in my hometown is very special!Cameron Duke – Sporting Kansas City homegrown player
“When this opportunity came up, I truly believed it was the best pathway for me and I’m excited to start training with the first team and learning from them, said Duke. “They have a lot of experience as pros and Can help me a lot in my development.”
“I’ve always wanted to become a professional,” said Duke who stayed positive throughout his recovery and worked hard each day to try to make this dream a reality.
Duke most recently helped the Sporting KC Academy U19s reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs last month in Oceanside, California.
After the U19s secured the No. 4 overall seed with a 16-4-3 regular-season record, Duke spearheaded a first-place finish in the group stage with a goal and an assist.
“I am extremely happy for both Cameron and the Sporting Kansas City as a club, said Rumba Munthali, Sporting Kansas City U19 and U17 Academy coach.
“Cameron exemplifies the type of player we are trying to produce through our pro pathway. Not only is he an elite athlete with a special skill set, but he is also a well rounded and humble individual,” said Munthali. “From traveling all over the world representing both club and country to giving toys away at Christmas to underprivileged kids, there is a reason Cam was team captain.
“Our Ownership truly believes in the vision implemented by Jon Parry and Peter Vermes, added Munthali. “It is a very exciting time at Sporting Kansas City.”
“I am very proud and excited for Cameron,” said Chris Duke, his father. “He has always dreamed of playing professional soccer from the time he kicked his first soccer ball.”
“The fact that he has been part of the Sporting organization since U12 makes it that much more special.Chris Duke
“I am really looking forward to seeing him play for Pete and Sporting KC,” said Chris Duke.
Duke is one of six Homegrown Players on Sporting’s current MLS roster, joining forward Daniel Salloi (2016), midfielder Gianluca Busio (2017), defender Jaylin Lindsey (2017), midfielder Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (2018) and forward Tyler Freeman (2018).
MLS established the Homegrown Player initiative in 2007, allowing teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts. These players must meet Homegrown Player criteria, including participation in the club’s youth system and residence in the team’s Homegrown territory.
Duke is from a soccer family and becomes the third member of his immediate family to play soccer professionally.
His father, Chris Duke, notably played for the Kansas City Comets (1989-1991) and Kansas City Attack (1992) of the Major Indoor Soccer League and National Professional Soccer League, respectively.
Cameron’s older brother, 28-year-old Christian Duke, began his professional career with Sporting Kansas City (2013-2014) and served as the Swope Park Rangers captain from 2016-2017, leading the club to consecutive USL Western Conference championships. Christian Duke currently plays for USL Championship’s Orange County Soccer Club.
Cameron Duke – Number: #
Born: 2/13/2001 (18 years old)
Height: 5-7 — Weight: 135 lbs
Birthplace: Overland Park, Kansas