Dilly Duka: “It won’t be an easy game. The New York Cosmos are elite and clearly a top team in the NPSL.” (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Shudder to think what sort of damage Dilly Duka would have done in the National Premier Soccer League had he not been bothered by a hamstring injury.
As it is, the FC Motown midfielder has been life miserable for many a goalkeeper, defender and midfielder this season. He has been a major reason why the club is playing Cosmos B for the Northeast Region crown at Commisso Stadium in New York at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the right to reach the national semifinals next week.
“Dilly brings up everyone’s level on our team,” FC Motown head coach Sacir Hot said in a Thursday interview. “Whenever he steps on the field — he’s been dealing with a little injury with his hamstring, so he hasn’t been playing in all of the games — but when he does play, the guys see that, “All right, we have to win this game, Dilly wants to.’
“When they see that Dilly really wants to win a game, everyone has to step up. That’s why I have so much respect for guys like David Villa at NYCFC because they come over here and they work as hard as any guy there. So, players from two to 30 on the roster, can’t have a lower work rate than David Villa. and that’s what Dilly Duka does. He wants to win games. He gets super competitive when he steps on the field and shame on you if you’re not aa competitive as Dilly is, if you’re starting and playing alongside him. A guy that has his experience and his resume is a shame. That typically never happens, but that’s the kind of quality he brings to the team.”
So, it’s not surprising the 28-year-old Duka leads by example after playing in Major League Soccer for eight seasons. His teams included stops with the Columbus Crew SC, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact and the Red Bulls.
“Dilly’s played in huge games in his life,” said Hot, who referenced FC Motown’s 3-0 semifinal victory over FC Baltimore Wednesday night. “He played with his heart on his sleeve. That says a lot of about his character. most people who played in a CONCACAF Champions League final at the Azteca and two, three years later playing at Drew University in an NPSL semifinal, they’re not going to take it as serious. But Dilly, when he steps onto the field is super, super competitive. So that’s a great quality from him.”
For Duka, it isn’t about himself. It’s about the team. He realized Cosmos B will be a difficult opposition.
“We’re excited for the challenge, and we’re competing to win the NPSL title,” he said. “It won’t be an easy game. The New York Cosmos are elite and clearly a top team in the NPSL.
“FC Motown – from the players to the owners and the staff – they all are looking for titles. We’re always excited to compete in knockout competitions, it’s where we play our best soccer. The New York Cosmos are the best team in NPSL, so we’re excited to have a chance to knock them out.”