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LAFC 2020 player postmortem: Bryce Duke

Teenager played some real minutes in rookie season.

MLS: Inter Miami CF at Los Angeles FC Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Duke was the first technically Homegrown player signed by LAFC in 2020. Yes, he was a homegrown by roster designation, but the midfielder didn’t come through the LAFC Academy, instead coming up at the Real Salt Lake/FC Barcelona residency academy in Arizona. That Barça program has been pretty successful of late, producing the likes of Matthew Hoppe, Julian Araujo and Caden Clark, who have all made auspicious starts to their careers.

Like many teenagers signed to pro deals, Duke was a scoring machine as a youth player, but how would he fare in LAFC’s system, where midfielders were expected to play full two-way games?

He never broke through to the main rotation of LAFC’s very good midfield corps, but he still found a good amount of playing time in his debut campaign.

Here are Duke’s stats in 2020:

Bryce Duke LAFC 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 11 2 234 0 0 3 1 0 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CCL 1 0 28 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 12 2 262 0 0 3 1 0 0

Duke’s playing time was in a sense an omen of the 2020 season to come for LAFC. He made his debut in the Concacaf Champions League in the spring against Club León, certainly a much more pressure-packed environment than I expected. But there was an opportunity, and over the course of the season, when the five-man starting-caliber midfield group would dwindle because of injury or international absence, Duke’s name was the next one called.

Not surprisingly, I think in his early appearances, Duke looked like he was getting his sea legs, and while he didn’t look out of place on the professional stage, he wasn’t yet at the level of the likes of Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye.

To me, his best showing came on Oct. 14, against the Vancouver Whitecaps, when he came off the bench with 12 minutes to go and provided a legitimate spark in attack with LAFC chasing the game. I think he was given more free rein to jump into the offensive side, and he showed that he did have something there to change the game.

The 19-year-old is under contract for 2021 and it will be interesting to see how his game progresses and how much playing time he gets. I think there’s still going to be a logjam of sorts if Atuesta, Kaye, Latif Blessing, Jose Cifuentes and Francisco Ginella remain on the team and available to play, but you never know. 262 minutes isn’t a huge sample size, but it was a solid beginning for Bryce Duke, and we’ll see what the future brings for him with the black-and-gold.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.