Joining on loan from Peruvian club Sport Boys, Yasmani Duk has been one of the least utilized parts of the Cosmos roster this spring. After ten matches played in the NASL spring season, Duk made the bench twice, subbed on once, and received one start.
But with opportunities so rare, the Bolivian international has made the most of them.
Getting his first start against the Rowdies (a matchup frequently resulting in close scorelines), Duk did not disappoint scoring an equalizer off a Juan Arango assist. Duk would play the full 90 and share his thoughts on his time with the club in postgame.
“The truth is I’ve worked well with this group which, more than anything, is a family that works well together,” explained the striker in regards to the club. “I work hard to contribute when I’m called on and to do things well. The truth is that this is a very important, wonderful experience for me in a lovely city, in a lovely country; one very different from my own. A very advanced country, that maybe changes one’s life, but more so for my son.”
Duk was not done making the most of his playing opportunities, notching two headed goals against La Liga side SD Eibar in the mid-season friendly.
“I came to contribute and they brought me here because maybe, I had something to come contribute here. And God is giving me the opportunity to do so today.”
The loan has also offered the Bolivian with a chance to shine on the international stage, perhaps in some unintended ways.
With players from eight of the twelve teams in the Bolivian first division signing a statement rejecting any call-up to the Bolivian national team, the opportunity arose for Duk to represent his country at Copa America Centenario. Had Duk not gone on loan to the Cosmos, one can wonder whether he would have been called up to La Verde, not only because he wouldn’t have gone abroad, but because the two teams involved in his loan to the Cosmos, Oriente Petrolero and Sport Boys, are two of the teams involved in the statement rejecting call-ups.
“I always worked and waited for this opportunity,” he said regarding joining the national team. “The truth is I’m proud to be on the Bolivian national team. Maybe before they didn’t value the younger players as much, now there are more opportunities for them.”
“I want to stand out, in the qualifiers and in the Copa America, to do things well like I’ve done them until now. Defending like I’ve always done with heart, soul, and life. And by giving much. Work, sacrifice, like I’ve always done.”
Duk has done just that. In his last match, a friendly against the United States that ended in a pretty harsh scoreline for the Bolivians, Duk took a major step in his international career, wearing the captain’s armband for the first time.
Duk’s journey will continue on the international stage during the NASL midseason break, joining Bolivia for the Centenario. Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese approves of this callup despite an important Open Cup match coming up next week.
“He’s going to get into competition. What I’m content about is that he’s going to be competing at the highest level,” said the coach. “He’s going to come back at a good level for us to continue to contribute.”
When he does get back, it’s likely that Duk will make the choice for striker difficult for Savarese. Despite his limited time on the field, Duk has found a place in the club and is determined to make the most of his stint with it.
“The truth is I feel at peace, very content,” said Duk. “I’m going to take advantage of this season here to try to open more doors for myself and move forward in this life I’m living here in this nice experience. I didn’t waste it and I’m going to continue taking advantage of it.”
He has not been used much but, when given the chance, he has made an impact. Of course we are all rooting for Yasmani but you have to wonder when the club will start to use him on a more regular basis. You can only hope he starts to get more opportunities in a Cup run should the Cosmos progress past NYCFC.
It would be nice to see Duk have a strong Copa, however, a strong Copa could result in another call up and transfer which could hurt us. Duk remains a very interesting piece to the Cosmos puzzle this season.