When Dilly Duka entered Sunday’s game at Kansas City in the 73rd minute, he also entered the Crew SC history books. Duka became the sixth player to have at least two separate tenures with the Black & Gold. Selected eighth overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Duka spent his first three MLS seasons with Columbus. After stints with Chicago and Montreal, he’s now back in Ohio. To commemorate his second tour, let’s take a look at the fraternity he has now joined.
TWO-TIME CREW SC PLAYERS
1. Ricardo Iribarren
First stint: Iribarren came to Columbus from Belgrano de Cordoba of the Argentine Primera Division as the Black & Gold’s fifth allocation on June 28, 1996. The central defender played in 16 games (starting 15) and was an integral part of Columbus storming back from last place to win nine of the last ten games to secure a playoff spot. He even scored a sweet bicycle kick goal vs. D.C. United. After the season, he encountered visa problems that prevented his return, so he signed with Almagro back in Argentina.
Second stint: With his visa problems resolved, Iribarren signed with Columbus again in 1998. He played in 24 matches (starting 22) for a Columbus team that lost in the Eastern Conference finals to D.C. United. He also went the distance in the Crew’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup final on October 30, 1998. He was waived the next day, ending his second go-round with the club.
Bonus stint: Iribarren returned to Columbus yet again as an assistant coach on Robert Warzycha’s staff from 2009-2013.
2. Chris Leitch
First stint: A local kid from Pickerington, Leitch was a fourth round selection in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft. He spent his rookie year in Black & Gold, playing in 13 games (starting 11) for the team that would win Crew SC’s first ever trophy, the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. On March 13, 2003, he was traded to the MetroStars as part of the deal that brought Ross Paule to Columbus.
Second stint: After three years in New York, Leitch was waived by the MetroStars following the 2005 season…a season in which he was named their Defender of the Year! Apparently that wasn’t enough. He re-signed with Columbus on April 28, 2006, then made 24 appearances (18 starts) for the worst team in Black & Gold history. After suffering through that, he was waived on March 1, 2007. (Whereupon he went back to New York and started MLS Cup 2008 for the Red Bulls against the Massive Champions.)
3. Jeff Cunningham
First stint: Goals. Lots of goals. The ninth overall selection in the 1998 MLS SuperDraft, Cunningham scored eight goals as a rookie. Then a whole bunch more after that. He scored the first-ever goal at MAPFRE Stadium on May 15, 1999. In 2001, he became the first player in Crew SC history to post double digits in goals and assists in the same season, with 10 and 13, respectively. (Ethan Finlay’s 12-goal, 13-assist 2015 campaign is the only other instance.) Cunningham bagged 16 goals in 2002 as part of the U.S. Open Cup championship team. He scored 9 goals for the 2004 Supporters’ Shield winning team in Columbus. He was tied from the club’s all-time lead with 62 career regular season goals when he was dealt to Colorado on January 14, 2005, for a first round draft pick. That pick would become Kei Kamara. (More on him in a bit!)
Second stint: Sitting just one goal behind Jaime Moreno for the all-time MLS scoring record, Cunningham came back to Columbus via the 2010 re-entry draft. He scored only two goals in his final MLS season, but they were both record breakers. On July 6, 2011, Cunningham scored in the 90th minute at Vancouver in a 1-0 Columbus victory. The game-winner was his 63rd regular season goal for the Black & Gold, breaking the tie he had held with Brian McBride. Then on August 27, 2011, in Seattle, Cunningham converted a penalty kick against Kasey Keller to pass Moreno for the all-time MLS scoring record with his 134th career goal. “It’s a great feeling,” Cunningham said afterward. “Fourteen years and now to be on top of the scoring lead is a great honor. There have been some great players that were a part of this league, and I am honored to be up amongst them as far as goal production.” It was his last MLS goal. Crew SC declined his contract option following the season. He went on to play in Guatemala and in the NASL with San Antonio.
4. Kei Kamara
First stint: Selected ninth overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, with the pick acquired in the Cunningham trade, Kamara scored in his first appearance for the Black & Gold on April 1, 2006. In 36 appearances (13 starts) during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Kamara scored five goals. On November 26, 2007, he was dealt to San Jose in exchange for Brian Carroll.
Second stint: Wow. On October 7, 2014, Crew SC announced the signing of Kamara via the allocation process, whereby he would join the team for the following season. In 2015, Kamara was runner-up in the league MVP voting after banging in 22 goals and recording 8 assists. The goal total was the second-highest in Crew SC history, trailing only Stern John’s 26-goal barrage in 1998. Kamara bagged four more goals in the playoffs as Crew SC made a run to the MLS Cup final. He tallied five goals in the first part of the 2016 season before he was traded to New England on May 12, 2016.
5. Dilly Duka
First stint: Selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Duka spent his first three seasons in Columbus. In 45 appearances (32 starts), he recorded two goals and five assists. On February 4, 2013, he was traded to Chicago as part of the deal for Dominic Oduro.
Second stint: That story is only 17 minutes into its journey.
THREE TIME CREW SC PLAYERS
1. Dante Washington
First stint: Signed as a free agent on June 18, 1996, he made three appearances totaling 60 minutes and registered one shot, which wasn’t on goal. On August 9, 1996, Columbus parlayed that production into a deal with Dallas that netted them the rights to Dante’s Olympic team roommate, Brad Friedel.
Second stint: In exchange for their third overall pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft, Columbus reacquired Washington, who had blossomed into an All-Star with Dallas. The trade paid immediate dividends as Washington scored 15 goals and added 9 assists in his first season back, garnering an all-star nod in Columbus. On June 16, 2001, he became the first and only Crew SC player to participate in five goals in a single game, scoring three and assisting on two others in a 6-1 win vs. the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Over the course of 2001 and 2002, despite battling a big toe injury, the popular striker totaled 13 goals and was a member of the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship team. When his contract expired on December 31, 2002, it was not renewed, so he signed with the Virginia Beach Mariners in the second division.
Third stint: On October 8, 2004, Washington was signed back from the Mariners and joined the Black & Gold near the end of their first Supporters’ Shield campaign. He made one regular season appearance and appeared in both playoff games, including a start in the infamous playoff loss to New England on October 31, 2004, although he did not miss either of the penalty kicks that Columbus squandered in that game. Columbus held Washington’s rights after 2004 and ultimately dealt his rights to Real Salt Lake early in 2005.
Bonus stint: From 2008-2010, Washington returned to the Black & Gold as a television and radio analyst, and has made periodic fill-in appearances since then. He still lives in Central Ohio and is part of our community, so one never knows when Dante may resurface with the Black & Gold…
@stevesirk Looks like I need to make a comeback to secure my record!— Dante Washington (@DanteWashington) June 22, 2016