Dilly Duka

Duka back and ready to be a factor for the Crew

2012 has been frustrating so far for Crew winger Dilly Duka.

The promising young talent was subbed off 12 minutes into the season opener in Colorado with a hamstring injury. Because of the injury, Duka was forced to miss out on Olympic Qualifying with the United States U23 National Team. In the week following his return as a substitute on April 12 against New York, Duka re-injured his hamstring, keeping him out for another month.

"It was hard because before I got injured, I was in form and I was with the U23s and I was fit," Duka said after training in Seattle on Monday. "Now after sitting out and watching the guys play, stepping on the field in training and you want to get your fitness, but you're not as fit as you were. It definitely took some time (to heal), but right now I believe I'm really close (to being at full fitness)."

Not all was lost in Duka's absence from the playing field. The midfielder noted that knowledge of different aspects of the game can be attained by watching rather than playing.

"Watching and playing is completely different, but you can learn some stuff," Duka explained. "Especially when the coaches talk about our pregame plans and the way to go at teams, you learn and see the execution. You can always pick up ways to add to it. I definitely learned a lot in our gameplan and how we want to go at teams, but it's also different from actually playing."

Duka hopes the injuries are behind him as he made his return on Saturday to provide 30 minutes along the left side of the Crew's midfield in a 1-1 draw on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes. The 22-year-old didn't miss a beat offensively, looking like his old self attacking on the flank.

"Before I entered the game, I was definitely excited and I definitely wanted to go out there and help as best as I could," Duka said. "It was a great feeling. It's awesome to just get running again and join your teammates."

Now Duka may be called upon to start Wednesday night in Seattle as Milovan Mirosevic is uncertain for the midweek match against Seattle Sounders FC.

"Whatever we decide as a team, whatever the coaches decide, I'm going to go with their decision. I think we've got a couple players that could go (in place of Mirosevic). It's a gameday decision and I'll be ready," Duka said.

Crew head coach Robert Warzycha could elect to insert Cole Grossman into the starting role in attacking midfield, or start Duka on one of the wings and slide either Tony Tchani or Eddie Gaven into central midfield. 

Regardless of which direction Warzycha chooses, Duka will be happy to be back in uniform and ready to go.


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