Like the best trades, the deal the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew will announce Monday works for both teams.
The Fire will ship speedy forward Dominic Oduro to Ohio in exchange for 23-year-old Dilly Duka, a promising midfielder without much of a pro resume yet. But one of the hidden features of the deal, sources said, is that the Fire also acquires the MLS rights to midfielder Robbie Rogers, 25, should he decide to return from Europe.
Rogers is looking for a new home after Leeds United terminated his contract by mutual consent, according to reports from England. He has a history of injury problems, but when healthy he's a candidate to play for the U.S. national team. He also can play forward.
Both Duka and Oduro tweeted goodbyes to fans in Columbus and Chicago on Friday night when word of the trade broke, and Duka tweeted that he was catching an early plane Saturday morning to California where the Fire will begin the second phase of its preseason training.
Duka, like Rogers a winger, also had some injury problems last season, but he is believed to be healthy now. He seemed to fall out of favor with Crew coach Robert Warzycha toward the end of last season and has not been in preseason training with the Crew.
The Fire has made an extra effort the past few seasons to do its due diligence with players and has avoided players that might not fit in, so it's expected any issues Duka had in Columbus won't follow him to Chicago.
In 2012 Duka played in 20 matches, starting 14. He did not score and had 2 assists. He has scored 2 goals in three MLS seasons. He is in the U.S. U-23 national team pool.
Oduro, 27, scored a career-best 12 goals in 2011 and could excite fans with his blazing speed. But he struggled to match heightened expectations in 2012 and eventually lost his starting role, finishing last year with 6 goals and 3 assists. Columbus will be his fifth MLS team as he enters his eighth season in the league.
Duka's contract is significantly richer than Oduro's, but it appears the deal was delayed while the teams and Duka worked out a way to offset the difference. Duka is expected to compete for the left midfield role with Naperville native Brendan King, acquired on Thursday after playing for Alta IF in Norway, as well as holdovers Alex and Wells Thompson.
The Fire, which left Saturday for the second phase of preseason training in California, continues to look for a forward to add to the roster, both domestically and abroad. It seems more likely the team will find someone with MLS experience in the near term.