OBETZ, Ohio – Duncan Oughton is true Crew from the day he was drafted in 2001 until his retirement to the front office last month.
That’s why the new assistant to technical director Brian Bliss had a tough time keeping his emotions in check Saturday during his debut as the team’s TV analyst. He was in-studio with veteran play-by-play announcer Dwight Burgess as Columbus suffered a 3-1 loss at D.C. United in the season opener.
“It’s hard when you’re a huge Crew supporter to keep that side of it and be even keel,” the popular New Zealander said. “It’s kind of hard to get excited when DC scored a goal and be up about it. That’s hard work because you’ve disliked DC for so long. … Dislike is a nice word I used there.”
Oughton, who spent more time as a player than anyone in Crew history, still has the competitive juices and wondered last week if he made a good decision to hang up his boots.
“Even that First Kick, watching LA-Seattle it was like, ‘Man, did I make the right choice?’” he said. “You can’t look back and be disappointed about certain decisions you made.”
He’s looking forward to telecasting his first home game Saturday vs. New York and has been busy with public appearances and promotional work, but his real love is being on the field.
Oughton will scout some Crew Academy matches Friday and start working with the Crew Juniors soon, though “not as a coach, but seeing as many kids as I can and putting sessions on for different teams. That will be fun.”
[inline_node:331688]It's not practice
Coach Robert Warzycha said second-year midfielder Dilly Duka was aided by a Generation Adidas series of games in Spain in December.
“He sensed he could help us, especially with a lot of guys leaving,” he said.
Duka agreed that the tour was beneficial, conceding that “with Generation Adidas, you get games, and I didn’t get much last year.”
He was openly frustrated last season by the lack of minutes but started the first game of 2011 at D.C. United. Even if Duka returns to the bench Saturday, he’s one player excited about the restoration of the Reserve League after a two-year absence.
“It’s a good thing we have a Reserve League this year because if you’re ready to jump into the first team you’ve got games and you’re fit to play and not just starting over,” he said.
Loud and clear
Warzycha said he was not making a statement that nobody’s job is safe when he benched US midfielder Robbie Rogers in favor of Duka at DC.
“I don’t want to send a message,” he said. “You perform; you’re going to be on the field. If you don’t perform sometimes you are going to be on the bench. I don’t want to threaten anybody.”
Rogers might regain his left midfield spot from Duka on Saturday.