Sporting Kansas City II has announced that they have brought back Christian Duke. The former Swope Park Ranger midfielder has played 47 times for Orange County SC the last two seasons, where he won the 2018 Western Conference regular season under manager Braeden Cloutier. In 2018, Duke appeared in 31 matches. The midfielder’s 2019 campaign got off to a rough start, as he missed the opening 19 games through injury, but came back to lead the charge for Orange County as they claimed another Western Conference championship.
The Overland Park native returns to the team after spending time with the club’s academy, signed a professional contract with Sporting KC in 2013 and 2014 (made no appearances for SKC, but was sent on loan to USL sides Orlando City and Oklahoma City Energy FC), and made 70 appearances, scored four goals, and recorded eight assists as captain for the Swope Park Rangers from 2016-2017, where he led SPR to the Western Conference Championship both seasons.
Duke will add a wealth of experience to SKCII’s roster, which now has eight players, with a number of others playing in college and with the SKC academy. Christian Duke also joins his little brother, Cameron Duke, who signed a homegrown contract last July.
The starting XI for Paulo Nagamura’s side will look quite a bit different this season, as Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Ayyoub Allach, Rassambek Akhmatov, and William Opoku Mensah had their contracts expire as Alexsander and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli both returned to their clubs after their loans expired. The club also declined options on Mark Segbers, Rennico Clarke, Camilo Benitez, Killian Colombie, and Tucker Stephenson. Adrian Zendejas will also no longer be in the goalkeeper mix after he was traded to MLS expansion side Nashville SC.
Sporting KC II’s schedule is also set to be released later this week, which will see them in the Eastern Conference for a second straight season. Now into Paulo Nagamura’s third season as head coach, he will certainly be expecting to find more success than last season’s 6-8-20 record, which saw them finish last in the Eastern Conference.