You won’t find more experienced and accomplished players in the NPSL than the dynamic duo of Dilly Duka and Hunter Freeman from FC Motown. The pair brings 20+ years of professional experience to the New Jersey NPSL side.
Duka played eight seasons in MLS with the Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and New York Red Bulls. He actually played for the Crew twice. His first stint in Columbus was from 2010 through 2012; he later returned to Ohio for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Freeman started his pro career with the Colorado Rapids in 2005 and would play for the franchise again in the 2012 season. He also played for the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Norwegian side IK Start, New York Cosmos, and Miami FC in a decorated career that has spanned 13 years.
Both are excited to be playing for Motown and to be back in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. FC Motown faces the USL’s Penn FC in the Second Round on Wednesday night. Motown advanced from the First Round with a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls U23.
“It was a tough game. Red Bull play with high energy, and they are very organized,” Duka commented. “We came away with a solid win, but there were definitely moments where we struggled.”
Freeman agreed with Duka’s assessment.
“Obviously they put together a quality team that had a lot of good technical players that lack experience just simply due to their age, but the first 20 minutes of the game they put it to us. We came out trying to be more defensive and we gave them the time and space that they needed. If they were given that time and space they have the technical ability to take advantage. They scored and then we had to change our game plan a bit and put them under pressure. And when we did that, we found the our chances. Credit to the team, we fought back and we found two goals before the half and probably could have had a couple more.”
Despite their vast experience, Duka and Freeman are not taking their next opponent lightly.
“Penn FC will definitely be a tougher opponent than Red Bull,” Duka added. “They have a good amount of seasoned pros on their roster. We’re going to go out there and give our best. It’ll be a fun experience. Guys on our team are enjoying the competition so far, and definitely want to be as competitive as possible in the Open Cup.”
Penn FC is a fully professional side that includes a talented roster that includes the likes of Richard Menjivar, Tommy Heinemann, and Lucky Mkosana. And don’t forget a pair of NPSL alums, Salvatore Barone and Harri Hawkins, that have already made an impact on the team’s USL campaign.
“They’ll be a quality side and obviously extremely difficult task for us,” Freeman continued. “But you know, I guess you have to show up and play the game and anything’s possible but for sure they have a distinct advantage against us.”
The U.S. Open Cup is a special event that often showcases great unpredictability.
“The Open Cup can be crazy,” Freeman concluded. “It doesn’t matter what level or age or experiences. It’s a one-off. You have a good night and the other team has a bad night. One call goes your way or one goes against you.”
It seems quite possible that FC Motown could be this year’s Cinderella story in the Open Cup. They certainly have the talent and experience to get the job done against the best the tournament has to offer.
Photo Credit: Bob Larson