MICHAEL ADUBATO - Friday, February 7, 2020
After a tough couple of months in Belgium, Chris Durkin is finally seeing action at Sint-Truiden, and the midfielder hopes the loan spell will not be his only chance to play in Europe.
Durkin was given the opportunity to get a taste of European soccer when a loan deal was agreed between his parent club, DC United, and Sint-Truiden of the Belgian Pro League last summer. Now it seems that the young man only has eyes for Belgium.
Although the loan is just until March of this year, the 19-year-old has other dreams and aspirations outside of Major League Soccer.
"My hope is to stay here permanently," Durkin recently told Yanks Abroad. "I think that soon there will be talks on whether or not the extension will be made into a purchase. I'm really happy here and I think the club is happy with me as well. I think it's a good situation right now and hopefully something can happen quickly to make my spot permanent here in Belgium."
After getting acclimatized to life on a team in a league a long way from home, the Virginian was given a great opportunity in their Belgian Cup clash against Zulte-Waregem in early December after his Spanish team mate Pol Garcia, was shown a straight red card after just eight minutes. Durkin came off the bench and played a solid game although the team was not able to overcome the man disadvantage. Three days later he started against the Belgian champions, Club Brugge in a league game, putting in an 89-minute shift. He has started every game for the Canaries since then, going the full 90 minutes on four consecutive occasions.
The U-20 US national team midfielder has not looked back and would love to continue his European dream for as long as possible.
"I'm really, really grateful that DC United gave me this opportunity to go for my dream and really challenge myself over here," he said. "Although the first couple months were not easy, once the interim coach Nicky (Hayen) came in and gave me the chance (I took it). And now Milos (Kostic, head coach) has given me the chance to prove myself. That's all I can do is approach each and every game the best I can. I'm really excited with how things are going."
Sint-Truiden had a terrible December, collecting just a point during the month and being knocked out of the cup but have recovered in the new year as they won their first two games by scoring five goals and surrendering one. In their last outing however, they were unfortunate not to get anything out of their one goal loss to Oostende last weekend.
When asked to compare playing in the Pro League to MLS, Durkin said that there are definitely some tactical differences in terms of pressure on on the player.
"There is a lot more on you here but also you can play a game where there are 30,000 people in the stands and then (the next game) there are only around 3,000 people in the stands. So, it's very different but it's a very challenging league. Everybody is tactically very well set up and there is a lot of running," he said.
The club's fans are a major aspect of the whole experience that he also appreciates.
"Our group of fans is great you know. They may not always come out in massive numbers but the fans that we have are loyal," he said. "We'll know when they're happy and we'll know when they're not happy, and right now they're really happy with us (after the 3-1 win over RE Mouscron). It's a great connection that we have and I love the community support behind the club; especially at home games they're right behind us and its great."
If a deal can be made between the two clubs, there will be one very happy teenager who is someone with a very long and hopefully illustrious career ahead of him, both at club level and no doubt eventually in a US national team shirt.
"I'm just going to remain patient and focus on my role here in Sint-Truiden," said Durkin.