New acquisition Duka up for the challenge in midfield
VENTURA, Calif -- New Fire acquisition Dilly Duka isn’t just a fun name to say.
Acquired from Columbus Monday in exchange for forward Dominic Oduro, the 23-year-old midfielder brings attacking prowess as well as another option to the left side of Frank Klopas midfield for the 2013 MLS campaign.
Watch: Pre-Season check-in with Dilly Duka
“I’m definitely glad to be joining the Fire for the 2013 season,” Duka told Chicago-Fire.com. “I’m looking forward to getting up to speed and excited to be joining these players because there are a lot of good guys I can learn from here.”
The Duka/Oduro swap had long been rumored dating back to last month’s MLS SuperDraft where Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss and Fire head coach Frank Klopas were seen leaving the draft room floor, presumably to make the trade.
After spending the past three seasons in Columbus, Duka did not take part in the Crew’s first training camp as the two parties continued to work out the deals of the acquisition.
Having arrived in Fire camp ahead of the trade announcement on Saturday, Duka trained with the team over the weekend and admitted the need to get up to speed with his new teammates.
“I found out officially just a couple days prior so obviously I need to get there with my fitness level and get acclimated to the team playing style. Sunday was my first full day and they’re two weeks into preseason so I’m going to have to work extra hard to get up to fitness and know what the tactics are all about.”
WATCH: Duka Tallies vs. Fire in October 2011
Duka is a tidy little player that describes his game as possession oriented.
Though he has the ability to play as an attacking midfielder he featured more on the left in his 45 matches with the Crew over the last three years.
“When I’m on the wing I like to play direct and go at players and when I’m at attacking mid I like to play people behind the back line. Roles change when you change teams. I’m going to know what my role is here and try to give 100 percent.”
Knowing his role is certainly important.
Come the side’s 2013 opener at LA next month, the team could be deploying a midfield in which three of the four starting players are different than those that ended last season.
The Fire have been the most active in the MLS trade market this offseason, acquiring Joel Lindpere from New York and Jeff Larentowicz from Colorado last month.
The two acquisitions along with the presence of captain Logan Pause make it less likely that Duka will see time in the middle but with Uruguayan international Alvaro Fernandez going out on loan last month, the former U.S. U-20 international looks to have a great chance to complete with the likes of Alex, Wells Thompson and Corben Bone for a starting spot out on the left wing.
“There are a lot of talented players here with the Fire and especially in the midfield,” he said. “I know coming in its going to be tough to break into this starting eleven. The goal is to be starting. I’m here to learn and get better every day so I’m up for the challenge and excited.”
As for crossing the rivalry line that exists between Chicago and Columbus, Duka hasn’t thought much about it.
“I never really noticed the rivalry between Columbus and Chicago but there is one. I don’t get too much into what team I’m coming from. I’m looking at what’s now. That is the Chicago Fire and I’m happy to be a part of this club.”