Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sporting KC signs two to contracts

Sporting Kansas City announced the acquisition of two new players on Thursday with the signings of midfielder Christian Duke and defender Mechack Jerome.

"We are very happy to add Jerome and Duke to the team," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "They both have a lot of potential and earned their roster spots in pre-season. Duke is an Academy player and Mechack is from Orlando City so it's great to see our academy system and our partnership with Orlando City both working so well."

Duke, selected in the first round of the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft last month out of the University of San Diego, is an Overland Park, Kan. native and played for the Sporting KC Academy beginning in June 2007 while attending Shawn Mission South High School.

The 21-year-old appeared in 60 games during his four-year collegiate career, earning six assists. In 2012, Duke played in all 23 games as a senior and helped lead the team to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Duke led all Sporting KC players during the pre-season with eight appearances and he is one of seven players from the Kansas City area now on the club's active roster, along with Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin, Kyle Miller, Seth Sinovic and Michael Thomas.

"It's a dream come true playing for my hometown team," Duke said. "I am very excited for the upcoming season and to get better as a player.  There are a lot of older guys to learn from and this is a great organization to be a part of."

Duke is classified as an off-budget player and his salary will not count against the club's salary budget.

Jerome, 22, played each of the last two seasons with Orlando City SC, Sporting Kansas City's USL PRO affiliate, and logged 34 appearances in contributing to the club's 2011 USL PRO championship and back-to-back first place regular season finishes.

In 2012, he recorded one goal and three assists in 20 appearances and was named All-League Second Team.

A Haitian international, Jerome shined as a youth on the international stage in 2007 when he represented his country at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship alongside current Sporting Kansas City teammate Peterson Joseph.

The squad finished atop Group A above Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador and qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, where the duo again featured in matches against Japan, France and Nigeria.

Jerome was also selected for the 2007 Pan American Games, where he scored Haiti's lone goal in a 1-1 draw against Argentina.

He would go on to debut for the senior team in 2008 and was named to Haiti's roster for the 2008 and 2010 Caribbean Cup competitions.

After beginning his club career domestically in Haiti in 2006 with Baltimore de St. Marc in the Ligue Haitienne, Jerome joined Mirandela of the Portuguese Second Division for the 2009-2010 season.

He was then acquired by the Austin Aztex in 2010, where he made three appearances prior to the team's transition to Orlando City.

On trial with Sporting Kansas City since the start of the team's pre-season, Jerome appeared in seven pre-season games for the club and scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers in The Desert Friendlies in Tucson, Ariz.

He becomes the second player signed from Orlando City SC, along with defender Lawrence Olum.

"I've always wanted to play in MLS and I am very happy to have signed," Jerome said. "It's a group of great guys and a good team. I feel comfortable here already. It was a great experience playing for Orlando City and I am thankful for the opportunity that they gave me by allowing me to come play for Sporting Kansas City."

A discovery signing, Jerome will be added to the team's roster and will occupy an international roster spot pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.