Christian Duke is one of Irvine’s rising soccer stars. The 27-year-old center midfielder helped lead the Orange County Soccer Club, based in Irvine, to the playoffs in its first season with the United Soccer League (USL). Duke grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and played soccer at UC San Diego before going pro.
How did you wind up with the Orange County Soccer Club?
The team reached out to me in the offseason and presented an opportunity to play professionally in beautiful Southern California. The decision was a no-brainer. I’m where I always wanted to be — around great guys who make you better each day.
What game stands out this year?
The game against Oklahoma City was a defining moment for our team. We were down one goal and ended up scoring late twice in quick succession to win the game. The win set us up for the playoffs and a chance to clinch the league title.
What has this season been like?
We have been pushing as a team for 10 months to make the postseason. Reaching this goal is why we are all out there. Being able to clinch a playoff berth is a pretty big achievement, and our fans have been a huge factor in our success.
Your father, Chris Duke, played professionally. What impact did he have on you?
My dad was my coach for many years, but more importantly an amazing role model. He actually played at the University of San Diego for the same coach as I did. I remember watching my dad play and cheering for No. 20. It was my dream to follow in his footsteps. It is incredible to wear his No. 20 on the field each week.
What advice do you share with young players?
I tell them to always do the little things right. When they pay attention to the details of the game, everything else around them becomes easier. I also tell them to love the game. Have fun while trying to get better day in and day out. And while having fun, make the others around you better, because that will only make you better.