What are the Fire getting with Duka?

What are the Fire getting with Duka?
February 4, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Len Ziehm

It’s time to get to know Dilly Duka, the midfielder with the catchy name who the Fire just acquired in the Dominic Oduro trade with Columbus.

Duka’s no slouch. While with the Crew from 2008-11 he was part of teams that won both the Major League Soccer and U.S. Open Cups. He was also a member of the MLS Best 11. Some say he can be the creative playmaker the Fire needs in its crowded midfield.

When the official trade announcement came down from both clubs on Monday the Fire also confirmed that it has received the right of first refusal for Robbie Rogers, U.S. international who is now a free agent.  He got into four matches for Leeds United in the Football League Championship (England's second tier) last season.

Whether Duka blossoms in a new uniform or Rogers materializes on the roster, the Fire did give up something in Oduro and it was his mindset that apparently triggered the deal.  Javier Leon, the Fire’s president of soccer operations, admitted that in the announcement, saying that "Dominic had expressed an interest in pursuing an opportunity for a starting position."

Apparently that meant that he wouldn’t get much of an opportunity to win his job back with the Fire. Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald apparently have the spots up top locked up. Oduro believes he’ll have a better chance in Columbus where he told reporters that he’s looking forward to working with Argentine playmaker Federico Higuain. Oduro called Higuain "Grazzini-like," a reflection on his better days with the Fire before Sebastian Grazzini left the club in midseason to return to Argentina.

Duka is now in camp with the Fire in California as is Corben Bone, a midfielder who spent the Florida portion of preseason training with Atletico Madrid, and German defender Arne Friedrich, who was excused from the Florida sessions. That gives the Fire 21 of 25 players in camp entering the first match there – on Tuesday against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center.

Most significant absentee remains goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who received another U.S. national team callup after going 90 minutes in a scoreless draw with Canada last week in Houston. He’s staying with the U.S. squad through Wednesday’s first match of the next phase of World Cup qualifying, a road battle with Honduras.

Also missing in California are trialist Colin Rolfe (injured), defender Tony Walls and forward Kevin Gulley. The latter reportedly may be loaned to another club.

The Fire has two additional matches scheduled in California, both on Saturday in Santa Barbara. The first team will meet the San Jose Earthquakes and the reserves will battle the University of California-Santa Barbara.