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Club-hopping Duka lands in Columbus
by Mike Woitalla, January 20th, 2010 7AM

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[MLS] Dilly Duka chuckles at the question: Which youth club did he play for? "I played for probably every club in New Jersey," answers the 20-year-old who is headed to the Columbus Crew as the eighth overall pick in the 2010 SuperDraft.

The midfielder then offers a partial list: "PDA, World Class Inter, two or three PDL teams." He also spent time with the New York Red Bulls Academy team.

"A lot of clubs wanted me to play with them and I played about a year with every club," he says. "I always said, 'Yeah, I could play with you for a year.'"

He also played in adult leagues since his mid-teens. It started when he accompanied his older brother to games and then joined in.

"I played for a Polish team, a Serbian team, I played in a Haitian indoor league," he says. "I played everywhere."

Duka's parents, Frank and Rose, are Albanians who immigrated from Macedonia and Belgium, respectively, and met in the USA.

"My dad's crazy about soccer and so is my mother's family," he said. "Everyone's very happy about me becoming a professional."

Duka, whose real first name is Duliver, aspired to be a pro upon graduating from Montville Township (N.J.) High School in 2007 but enrolled at his home state's Rutgers, whose coach, Bob Reasso, called him New Jersey's top attacking midfielder graduating that year.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Duka scored 10 goals and made five assists in 36 games in two seasons (2007-08) at Rutgers and was selected for the U.S. U-20 national team. He left Rutgers before his junior season. At the 2009 U-20 World Cup he scored and assisted in the USA's 4-1 win over Cameroon

"My national team coaches fell in love with me and believed that I could make it in the pros," says Duka. "I do plan to get my degree. I'll probably take some Internet courses, but I want to finish up at Rutgers."

As a Generation adidas signing, he will be given a stipend to pay for his classes. But his immediate goal is breaking into the team that won the 2008 MLS title.

 



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