OBETZ, Ohio – Columbus midfielder Dilly Duka says there is no rift between him and head coach Robert Warzycha, and the Crew boss has asserted Duka will likely be in the starting lineup against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Duka missed the team’s last game against the Chicago Fire while back home in New Jersey tending to personal issues, and has not played in a match since he was pulled from the team’s game against Chivas USA on Sept. 19.
Duka returned to practice Tuesday and reiterated what Warzycha said earlier in the week, that there are no issues between the two after Duka did not stay on the bench after being removed from the Chivas match.
“I sat on the bench then I looked over and said I needed ice,” Duka said to MLSsoccer.com. “I made a decision to go back in the locker room and do my treatment. During the game (Warzycha) was busy doing his job with coaching. I talked with the trainer. He came in to assist me.
“There’s nothing to it. I got subbed out.”
Emilio Renteria served as Duka’s replacement against Chivas and Chicago, but Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Friday that the Venezuelan import is a better option off the bench, leaving Duka in the starting role.
“I have to say Emilio is much better coming off the bench,” Warzycha said. “He finds ways when he plays the second half to be very dangerous.”
Duka, meanwhile, has failed to last longer than 75 minutes in any of his previous five starts, including the Chivas USA game.
“Every player wants their time and I do too,” Duka said. “Frustration? No. It’s a team game and I can’t look at what happened in the past and past results. I’m here with my team and we’re looking at the next four games. Making it to the postseason is so important.”
Higuaín expected to play
Designated Player Federico Higuaín did not partake in the customary set piece drills the day before a match but Warzycha said it was only a cautionary move and not a reoccurrence of the right foot problems that have hampered the forward for a month.
“He’s fine,” Warzycha said. “We didn’t want him too swing too many free kicks and corner kicks. I think he’s good to go tomorrow.”
O’Rourke favored over Birchall
Defensive midfielder Chris Birchall has not seen the field the past three games in favor of Danny O’Rourke, despite starting 13 straight matches for the club earlier this season.
That isn’t likely to change Saturday, even though O’Rourke missed time this week with what Warzycha called an ear infection.
“In my mind (O’Rourke) has the job to lose,” Warzycha said. “He has been very consistent over there. He is talking a lot, he is organizing a lot.”