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SSFC Spotlight: Lucas Demitra building his career in Slovakia

The dual-national winger is showing a spark.

UEFA Youth League 2022/23 Domestic Champions Path Draw Photo by Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team has several eligible talents competing in leagues across the globe, sometimes in countries far from the normal pathways. One potential future dual-national prospect is Lucas Demitra, who is displaying brief moments of brilliance in Slovakia. The 19-year-old attacker has overcome several injuries in his short career and looks to be on the verge of a breakout season.

Demitra was born in St. Louis, the son of Pavol, the late hockey player who spent most of his career in the NHL with the Blues. He played with the AS Trenčín academy, joining the club in 2010. As the son of a professional athlete, the talented youth standout was under the media microscope from a young age, reportedly fielding interest from Ajax. Coaches praised his maturity and ability to handle pressure.

At the age of 17, Demitra made his first-team debut in February of 2021, starting against Dunajská Streda and scoring in the 29th minute with a cool finish on the counter-attack. “It was [his] big day,” shared then-manager Stijn Vreven. “We no longer have to wonder if he will become a footballer one day. His performance today is the answer… He is a great, mature guy with a huge willingness to work.”

Having “graduated” to the next level, Demitra appeared in four more matches, finding the corner of the net against eventual champions Slovan Bratislava after latching onto a fortuitous loose ball. Unfortunately, the winger suffered an injury that kept him out of the lineup for the rest of the schedule. While working back to full fitness, Trenčín signed him to a multi-year contract with the intent of preparing him for an eventual move. “It’s a very good feeling,” said the teenager. “I see it as a thank you from the club and now it’s my turn.”

After recovering, Demitra began the following season on loan FK Dubnica in the second division. He found the back of the net again, scoring in a 4-0 victory over MŠK Námestovo. Upon returning to Trenčín and making two appearances, injury issues struck again, this time ankle and ”repeated muscle problems” kept him on the sideline for months.

This year, Demitra appears to have fully recovered. He has appeared in 11 matches, starting six. His assists helped claim wins over Zemplín Michalovce and Tatran Liptovský Mikuláš. In addition, his goal secured advancement in the UEFA Youth League with a victory over FK Žalgiris. At only 19 years old, he is making a real on-field impact and could be in line for an eventual move, provided further injuries can be avoided. While ranked 30th by UEFA, the Slovak Super Liga has a bustling scouting and transfer market, with multiple players finding their way to Belgium and the Netherlands.

As an international, Demitra is eligible for the USMNT and Slovakia. He has been a consistent call-up for the latter program at the youth level, beginning with the U-15 squad. The well-regarded talent would have likely been named to the roster for the recent UEFA European Under-19 Championship, but the manager cited his injury history as holding him back, despite possessing the qualities that would make him a valuable addition. His most recent appearance came in a recent friendly against the Uzbekistan U-19 squad, starting in the 2-0 loss.

Demitra is a 5’11” winger with a preference for the right side, who displays leadership qualities on the field and “has a flair for goals.” Also capable of playing striker, he can finish with both feet and has a “decisive” first touch. His most frequently praised attribute is speed, with some claiming him to be one of the fastest players in Slovakia. Thus far, the young attacker has proven most useful when running into space behind opposing back lines or pinging dangerous crosses, thriving when dribbling past defenders on the counter-attack.

“It was shown from the first moments that he has no problem coping with pressure,” expressed his former coach, Juraj Ancic. “We knew of his talent, skill, speed, and potential to become a skilled winger… He is still a teenager, but you can see from his figure that he is growing into a strong, dynamic, and fast player at the same time. He has a shot at goal. Even in the youth category, he excelled with goals, he was always dangerous… Lucas has his head in the right place, he wants to progress.”

Appearing committed to Slovakia, the odds are that Demitra never plays a minute for the United States. However, he is at the beginning of his career and situations can change, particularly as players move to different clubs or encounter new opportunities. If the attacker is able to avoid injury issues and continue to build on his initial production, then his combination of ability and young age should earn him a move to a bigger league. For now, the 19-year-old remains an inclusion on lists of “Yanks Abroad,” with observers cautiously monitoring his development.