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Duking it out: Pitch Pit for Sporting KC’s Cam Duke tonight

The crafty youth will be key to SKC gaining three points.

Colorado Rapids v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Fernando Leon/ISI Photos/Getty Images

When Sporting Kansas City kicks of at 8:11pm tonight, they will be going for their second MLS league win in the month. They face Vancouver Whitecaps, who Sporting dropped a 1-0 loss at on April 2. In May, Sporting is 1-1-2, while Vancouver is the reverse. However, Kansas City has played two more matches in 2022 than their Great White North opponents, and sit only two points above them in the Western Conference standings.

Even though the Whitecaps have picked up zero points on the road this season and Sporting is 3-1-2 at home, Kansas City will have to dig deep to pull out points with their bevy of injuries and suspensions that have piled up.

And…

The key for Kansas City against a bunker (if you put trust in good ole’ JJ) will be their ability to carve out chances with combination play and individual skill when attacking the edges of Vancouver’s box, or the rare foray through middle.

Enter Cam Duke for Sporting. In his way is ‘Cap Sebastian Berhalter, son of U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter.

Vitals

Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Cam Duke 5'6" 135 21 4th 90,000
Sebastian Berhalter 5'9" 154 21 3rd 100,000

Wheres and What they Gots

Duke has lined up at right back, left back, midfield as a #8 (and maybe a #6 at one point), and on right wing in Sporting’s various formations lately. So he could be anywhere... Normally, he is an 8. He can impact the match no matter where he is with his attacking pace, drive forward, skill set, and evolving maturity.

Berhalter usually holds down one of two central midfielders in front of Vancouver’s backline, typically on the right. Per the tweet above, the Whitecaps normal 3-4-2-1 could morph into a something like a 4-5-1 for tonight.

Telling Stats

Telling Stats Int Duel % KP DRB % xG G g+
Telling Stats Int Duel % KP DRB % xG G g+
Cam Duke 10 49.4 3 42.1 0.58 0 -0.37
Sebastian Berhalter 15 56.9 6 87.5 0.11 0 -0.34

The above stats for Duke are solid considering his youth and his substitution appearances early in the season. Another stat does pop a bit, however. Duke has 19 turnovers in his 551 minutes, a rate higher than most of his teammates. That is likely a result of his instinct to drive forward and make things happen.

Berhalter is a good mix as he is 2nd in dribble % on his side and 3rd in interceptions.

Latelies

This should suffice for Duke:

Berhalter’s performance vs San Jose in a May 14 3-3 draw showed his versatility - a 79.2 pass %, six accurate long balls, two key passes, three interceptions, and a 57.1 duel %.

Ink Links

Cam Duke Sporting KC Interview - Versatility paying off for SKC Homegrown - The Blue Testament

Deep Dive: Whitecaps Acquire Sebastian Berhalter - Eighty Six Forever

Tactics

Cam be nimble. Cam be quick. Cam be clever. Cam get past that bunker.

Additionally, Duke will need to limit Berhalter’s long balls that may be key to launching Vancouver’s counterattacks.