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Fire interested in acquiring Crew midfielder Dilly Duka

The Fire’s Federico Puppo (9) says he’s glad team is winning but he hasn’t played last four games. | Jamie

The Fire’s Federico Puppo (9) says he’s glad the team is winning, but he hasn’t played in the last four games. | Jamie Sabau~Getty Images

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Since its move to loan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez to Qatari side Al Rayyan, the Fire has committed itself to adding depth to the outside midfield position that Fernandez vacated.

But it hasn’t been clear exactly how the club planned to do so until recently.

Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon confirmed early Wednesday morning in a phone interview with the Sun-Times that the club is interested in acquiring Columbus Crew midfielder Dilly Duka, a move that has been rumored since the Jan. 17 MLS SuperDraft.

Duka, 23, is a highly-regarded outside midfielder who has seen time with the United States’ U-23 Team.

“With the departure of Alvaro Fernandez, it’s an area that we would like to bring an additional reinforcement,” Leon said. “We need to reinforce that area and we’re looking at a number of potential options and we have discussed and have evaluated Dilly Duka as one of them.

Leon’s comments Wednesday are less committal than Columbus Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss who is on record saying that the deal has come down to negotiations between Duka, his agent, the Fire and the league.

Bliss’ comments, though, appear transparent.

Duka suffered hamstring and ankle injuries in 2012 that limited him to only 20 appearances and prevented him from joining the United States’ Olympic Team during qualification. During that season, Duka was also rumored to have clashed with Crew coach Robert Warzycha.

That prompted Columbus to shop Duka and instruct him not to report to training camp.

But with most teams having completed the first phase of training camp and Duka still on Columbus’ roster, it has put the Crew in a bad position regarding its negotiating power.

Fire coach Frank Klopas said in his weekly news conference Tuesday that the team first started negotiating with the Crew during the MLS SuperDraft. Leon said Wednesday morning that he expected to have an opportunity to again speak with Columbus after a preseason matchup between the two teams Wendesday afternoon which the Fire lost 2-1.

Leon also emphasized that the Fire was reviewing of outside midfielders it had interest in bringing to Chicago.

“They’re looking to move him and we have an interest in the player,” Klopas said. “There’s a lot of rumors out there but we did talk to Columbus about him and that’s something that might get finalized, it might not.

“With every move we make, we want to make sure that it’s the right move and it’s within the best interests of the club. If that doesn’t happen then we would not do anything.

“We need to make decisions that not just right now make sense but also long term.”

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