BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Dilly Duka's potential is evident.
The Chicago Fire midfielder is able to sprint by opponents with ease, and his ability to take defenders one-on-one was one of the reasons Chicago felt comfortable trading Dominic Oduro for Duka and the rights to Robbie Rogers during the offseason, even when there was no guarantee Rogers would return to MLS.
“He has the ability to beat players, he's good in tight spaces, and when he does, we definitely have an advantage,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “We're just focusing on him in the final third, his decision-making, because he does get in good spots. He's a young player, and it's getting his head up and making the right choices, because we do have good movement in the box. Now, it comes with games and experience and him showing himself.”
Though he hasn't scored or registered an assist this season, Duka has shown a few flashes lately of what he can bring.
In last week's US Open Cup game against Charlotte, he was dangerous taking on defenders throughout the game, and he almost scored last Sunday against D.C. United, when he sprinted in between the two center backs to gather a flick-on from Maicon Santos before cutting the ball back and putting his shot wide.
Comfort around the goal, Duka said, will come if Klopas puts him on the field, which should happen on Saturday against Portland (8:30 pm ET, watch FREE on MLS Stream of the Week) with Joel Lindpere gone on international duty.
“I think that comes with more playing time,” said Duka, who has started six games this season. “I feel real good, I feel like I'm fit and everything, but with the more playing time you get, the more comfortable you're going to be on the field, and the final third, that's going to come. We're creating chances, I'm creating chances. We just need a little bit of luck, and it's going to come.”
After going through controversy and contentiousness in Columbus, Duka needed a stable environment with a coaching staff who would foster his talent.
In Chicago, he just may have found that.
“What I needed was just a new atmosphere and I got that,” Duka said. “Now, I'm just trying to have fun and become a better player every day … I definitely like the atmosphere here in the locker room and the personnel, player-wise and coaching staff-wise. It's just what I expect. It's a professional organization.”