Dilly Duka is back practicing with the Crew after a weekend away with the team called "personal issues". The timing is highly interesting given it appeared that Duka went missing after being subbed off in the previous game and was soon on a plane to New Jersey with a big road game against fierce rival the Chicago Fire with playoff position on the line.
The issue started last Wednesday when Duka was subbed off with the Crew tied with Chivas USA in the 57th minute. He was visibly unhappy with the coaches decision and headed to the locker room soon after being lifted. Duka wasn't in the locker room after the game. Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha on Duka's quick exit "I didn't see that. I hope not.".
Today, the coach clarified. When asked by MLSSoccer beat writer Craig Merz, Warzycha said "He asked for the ice bath". While entirely possible, it would set a president. Duka hasn't left the bench in any previous game nor ducked out of the locker room before the media arrived for the post game media scrum up until last Wednesday.
Duka has had plenty of chances to get an early ice bath recently. Since coming back from injury in mid July, he's started 11 of the 12 games he's been available before Saturday. He's only gone the full 90 minutes once and averaged 73 minutes per game, often being the first player heading to the bench.
It hasn't been the best season for Duka. He was injured early in the year and missed the U.S. Olympic Qualifiers. He has reinjured his hamstring twice this year, limiting him to 14 starts and 18 appearances. His production has suffered too. He only has 2 assists on the year.
It wouldn't be the first time that Duka has butted heads with the coaching staff. He voiced his displeasure to Tom Reed of the Dispatch when he struggled for playing time in 2010, calling the decision not to dress him as "ridiculous".
After looking like he was ready for a breakout season, impressing with the Generation Adidas team and primed to play an important role on the U23s, 2012 has to be a great disappointment for Duka. He hasn't been an impact player from the wing for the Crew and his starting spot is likely under threat, given Warzycha's sub patterns.
He still has 4 games to turn his season around, with his spot up in the air it remains to be seen if he'll be on the field to do it.