Swope Park Rangers announced via twitter Wednesday that their first ever signing will also be their first captain. Christian Duke, a native of Overland Park, Kansas was confirmed as the Rangers captain for their inaugural season.
"It feels good," Duke replied when asked about becoming the first captain for the Rangers. "Coming back to Kansas City I know what to expect from the organization and what the first team wants and giving the new guys a feel for what it is going to take to get the next level."
Duke does know the organization; he has been at every level of Sporting Kansas City. He was with the Academy in 2007, was drafted by Sporting KC in 2013. Duke spent time with Sporting KC's affiliates Orlando City and Oklahoma City and signed with the Energy in 2015 and then the first signing for the Rangers. While still young, just 24, Duke can call on those experiences to pass on to his younger team mates what it takes to play at each level.
"The captain is somebody we wanted to make sure that they know the club well," Swope Park Rangers coach Marc Dos Santos explained. "The captain is somebody that relates to the city, that we think relates to the people, the fans, the club and Christian is that, Christian is exactly that. He's a guy who loves the city, loves the club; he came back because of that. He was in Oklahoma last year after leaving Sporting Kansas City and he came back because he felt that this is his place, his city. It was great for us to have a guy like that."
"The other thing now is Christian started to show a lot of things in the preseason when it comes to leading by example," Dos Santos added. "He loves to train, he works hard in every session, he has a lot of intensity and that combined with the passion he has for the city and the club was a quite an obvious choice."
Now, both teams have Kansas City area natives leading their squads. Duke for Swope Park and Matt Besler for Sporting KC.
A young team
With the Rangers being the second team for Sporting KC, it is made up of younger players that have potential to contribute to the first team and have a charter to help develop those players.
Duke is impressed with the team that has been assembled. "The attitude is fantastic, everyone wants to learn. Marc has done a great job bringing everyone in and getting them on the same page so I think we will be a team to do battle with and we will fight for a good playoff spot."
The question for a second team is balancing development with winning but Duke feels the mandate is clear. "This organization has a winning attitude and that is one of the first things that Marc and Peter (Vermes) came in and talked to us about. We are here to develop but we are also here to win a championship and that is what our first goal is."