Dilly Duka of the Columbus Crew
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Fire continue dance with Crew in possible deal for Duka

The flirtation continues between the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire regarding midfielder Dilly Duka.

Fire head coach Frank Klopas confirmed in a teleconference from Ave Maria, Fla., on Tuesday that Chicago are interested in the 23-year-old midfielder (above), who has been put on the trading block by Columbus. The clubs have been having discussions about Duka since the SuperDraft earlier this month.

“They're looking to move him and we have an interest in the player,” Klopas said. “We talked to Columbus about him, and that's something that might get finalized and they might not.”

Crew technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that the hold-up on a trade has to do with discussions between the league and Duka's agent about renegotiating his contract. Duka is coming off of the final year of his Generation adidas contract, meaning his entire salary will count against the cap.

The former US U-20 international hasn't reported to the Crew's training camp, and the Fire are looking for a replacement for Álvaro Fernández, who recently left for Qatar on a six-month loan. Reports have suggested a swap was in the works for forward Dominic Oduro, who was unhappy with his role coming off the bench at the end of last season.

“We need to make decisions that are good not only for right now, but also long-term,” Klopas said.

Atouba to remain with Chicago for now

The Fire will bring their only 2013 SuperDraft selection, 20-year-old Cameroonian midfielder Yazid Atouba, to Ventura, Calif., this weekend for the second phase of preseason training. But Klopas said Chicago's only SuperDraft pick has plenty to work on.

“He's a young player, he's a talented player,” Klopas said. “But he's got to get more structure. We talk to the kid, he listens and he takes a lot in. He's got a lot of individual ability. But now, it's almost like he's got to play with a lot more discipline. His decision-making has got to improve.”


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