DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke men’s soccer team hit the practice field for the first time Wednesday morning. The Blue Devils will have four days of training prior to hosting their first scrimmage against South Carolina Aug. 13.
Head coach John Kerr, in his 10th season on the sidelines, welcomes back 22 players from last year’s squad, while nine talented newcomers will bolster the 31-man roster. Seven rookies are a part of the nine-man group, while Daniele Proch and Erik Hanson join the program as transfer student-athletes.
Duke kicked off its 2017 preseason camp with a light warmup before getting to work in small six-sided games. It was an opportunity for the Blue Devils to all get their feet under themselves as a team after spending the summer playing elsewhere. The squad returned to the field for an evening session to complete the first of its four straight two-a-day sessions.
The Blue Devils will look to senior Brian White to lead the offense in 2017 following his red-hot summer with the New York Red Bulls U23 squad. Joined by Markus Fjørtoft on the team for the summer, White led all scorers in the Premier Development League with 17 goals in 14 games. A second-team All-ACC pick in 2016, White was named the league’s most valuable player and is listed at the top of the 2017 PDL Top Prospects list.
Fjørtoft, a three-year starter at center back, will be expected to anchor the Duke backline, while fellow defenders CC Uche, Carter Manley and Kevon Black all return. Overall, Duke returns nine starters from a season ago, including its top six scorers.
In goal, rookie Will Pulisic is the anticipated starter after spending this past season playing with the U19 Borussia Dortmund squad in Germany. He made eight appearances with the club and recorded four shutouts.
Duke will play a wealth of home games this season, hosting 12 contests, and hits the road for just five. The Blue Devils make their 2017 debut with the John Rennie Nike Invitational Aug. 25-27. Duke hosts Central Florida in the opener at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25 and Fordham in the tournament finale Aug. 27 at 2:30 p.m.