In a move that should come as no surprise to any Columbus Crew SC fan, the Black & Gold officially announced the club has waived midfielder Dilly Duka on Monday afternoon.
The winger, in his second stint with the club, made 15 appearances, five starts, and recording one goal and one assist.
Duka was brought back to Columbus in late June of last season as a replacement for playmaker Federico Higuain following hernia surgery. Despite featuring a year ago, Duka was unable to find playing time with Crew SC in 2017 and made the Black & Gold’s game day roster only once, June 24 in a 4-1 over the Montreal Impact.
“That’s something we discussed with the player, he actually requested that,” Berhalter said to members of the press on Monday in regards to Duka being waived. “And, in this case, due to the lack of playing time and the opportunity now with the season still being just about passed the midway point, we thought that this would give Dilly the opportunity to find a place where he can potentially play.”
“Dilly and I have had a number of conversations throughout the year about his position on the team and his desire to earn additional match minutes,” Berhalter followed up in the club’s press release. “After exhausting our options in the trade market, we decided that waiving him was in the best interest of the player and the club. We appreciate Dilly’s contributions since joining the club and wish him success in the next step of his career.”
In recent weeks, it appeared things became contentious between Duka and Crew SC.
On June 26, Duka tweeted out a picture of players’ winning percentages in practice. Berhalter spoke with Duka and made comments to the media about not violating trust in the locker room when asked about the tweet.
Duka responded with another tweet saying “Trust goes both ways,” before explaining to Massive Report that the initial tweet was meant as “competitive locker room talk” and that Berhalter “twisted any truth of the meaning of the tweet” to the media after the two spoke.
The midfielder was not in training on June 29 and Berhalter explained that, after meeting with Duka, the staff didn’t see him being in the roster for that Saturday’s match with Atlanta United and the two parties would reconvene the following Sunday.
Duka was in training that next Monday ahead of Crew SC’s game with Minnesota United, but respectfully declined to speak to the media at that time.
The future now is unclear for Duka. According to MLS roster regulations, “a club may place a player on Waivers at any time during the regular season at which point he is made available to all other clubs. The Waiver Claiming Period shall commence on the first business day after the League delivers notice to teams and expires at 5 p.m. ET on the second business day. If a player is not selected off of Waivers (‘clears Waivers’) then that player is available to all clubs on a first-come, first-served basis.”
If selected by another MLS club, that team can negotiate which team pays a portion of the remainder of Duka’s $175,000 salary this season. If no one takes Duka, Crew SC are on the hook for that number.
As for Duka’s past year and a half with the Black & Gold, Berhalter was diplomatic in his final words on the player.
“I think he played a very specific role last year in coming and trying to help us make that playoff push when Federico was injured and unfortunately it didn’t work out this year,” the head coach said. “What I would say is that, for the most part, Dilly was a professional and worked hard and no one’s happy not playing. Everyone wants more playing time. And that’s completely understandable. That’s why when you can have things like this take place that can potentially give him playing time, I think it’s a plus plus.”