Crew's Duka heads home to Jersey for "personal reasons"

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OBETZ, Ohio – Midfielder Dilly Duka will not be with Columbus Crew for their match at Chicago on Saturday (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online). Why is not clear.

Crew coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Friday that Duka went home to New Jersey for “personal reasons.”

When asked if his absence is related to Duka leaving the bench for the locker room shortly after being subbed in the 57th minute of scoreless match against Chivas USA that the Crew eventually won 1-0, Warzycha replied, “Maybe.”

Is he suspended?

“No.”

Is he injured?

“No.”

The coach did not elaborate, so it’s not known if Duka was told to stay away from the team and decided to head home while the Crew are on the road this weekend, or there is an actual matter to deal with in New Jersey.

Duka was unavailable for comment.

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The third-year attacker has two assists in 18 games (14 starts) but has missed nine games due to several hamstring injuries.

He’s started 11 of the past 12 matches - six straight – although he has been replaced between the 57th and 75th minutes in the past five.

Duka’s most recent assist was eight games ago on Aug. 19 vs. Houston and his last goal came in the 2011 season finale at Chicago on Oct. 22. 

Warzycha has several options in filling Duka’s left side spot including Justin Meram, who came off the bench in the 80th minute to score the winner nine minutes later against Chivas. There’s also veteran Emilio Rentería.

“Justin can step up,” Warzycha said. “The thing with him is sometimes he’s cold, sometimes he’s hot. The same with Emilio. You would need some consistency over there.”

His dilemma is he prefers to use both as late-game weapons.

“Basically somebody has to play,” Warzycha said. “Lately they’ve done good coming off the bench so we’ll see.”

Another possibility is to move Milovan Mirosevic from a defensive midfield position to his more natural attacking role. That could open a spot for Chris Birchall, Tony Tchani or Cole Grossman.

Meram not to be denied as Crew top Chivas 1-0

What Warzycha won’t do is drop Federico Higuaín onto the left flank from his assignment underneath forward Jairo Arrieta in favor of putting Milosevic there.

“With Federico, you want him as close to the box as possible,” Warzycha said. “He’s a guy that can make things happen. The more energy he saves going forward being an offensive threat is better for us.”

Feddie and Eddie ready

Barrring last-minute complications, Higuaín will start a second straight match since missing nearly of the New York game on Sept. 15 because of inflammation in his right foot, according to Warzycha.

Also, midfielder Eddie Gaven has recovered after a knock on his right ankle forced him from the Chivas game with 10 minutes left, only the second time this season he has not gone the full 90.

“I’m good to go,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.