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Dilly Duka: Unfulfilled Promise

Duka came in ready to be the next game changer but struggled with injury and performance.


Dilly Duka came into 2012 with tremendous expectations hovering over him. He was penciled in as the starting left winger after Robbie Rogers departure. He had an excellent tour with the Generation Adidas group and had played well with the U.S. U-23 team. He seemingly developed into a game changing talent.

Duka had a busy offseason and appeared to be ready to step up, but he suffered an injury 12 minutes into the season opener and was forced off. He would make a substitute appearance in early April, but reinjury would force him out until mid-May. After such a long layoff, Duka struggled to adapt to game speed. He was limited to 70 minutes or less until July.

Duka would establish himself as a starter, but he still was often the first player lifted by head coach Robert Warzycha. While he started 14 games, Duka only played a full 90 minute game once this season. He failed to score a goal and only notched 2 assists.

His season would turn on September 19th. After being subbed in the 57th minute, Duka left the bench and proceeded to the locker room. Neither the coaching staff of Duka elaborated on the incident beyond generalities, but Duka would leave the team that weekend to head to New Jersey to attend to personal matters.

He was injured the following week with what was either called an an ankle or foot injury. Duka would only get 34 minutes the rest of the season as he lost his starting spot to Justin Meram and then Ben Speas.

Duka is only 23 years old and has a chance to develop into a very good player, but he certainly regressed this year. He struggled with fitness after his injury and would often disappear from games for long stretches. His game is built on playing in tight spaces with good foot work, left mid isn't his ideal spot, but the signs are there that the team is wearying of his attitude issues.

Final Grade - 4: After early injuries, Duka failed to step up as a starter. His late season performances may prompt a trade.