Skip to content

Danny Mwanga for Jorge Perlaza: Reactions to a move that needed to happen

Jun 6, 2012, 3:08 PM EST

Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union Getty Images

Philadelphia’s at it again. It wasn’t so long ago that they were saying goodbye to their captain. Now, their first draft pick is being sent home.

Danny Mwanga, selected first in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft after two years at Oregon State, has been traded to the Portland Timbers for Colombian attacker Jorge Perlaza. According to a release from Portland, the trade was straight up: no draft picks, allocation money, or drinks thrown into the deal.

In addition to spending two years in Corvallis, Mwanga attended high school in Portland.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for me to come back to my hometown and play in front of family and friends,” said Mwanga, in a statement distributed by the Timbers. “I’m excited, and I can’t wait to get out to Portland and get to work.”

It’s a move that’s been speculated for some time. This summer, news broke that Philly was shopping Mwanga, with Portland thought to be the 20-year-old’s most likely landing spot. That talk cooled when Sebastien Le Toux left Philadelphia for Vancouver.

In the interim, Portland’s struggled to score goals. Their 12 tallies rank 16th in Major League Soccer.

More than that, the mix just hasn’t been right. Kris Boyd’s making $1.2 million to be the focal point, but he’s scored only four times in 12 games, with few of his goals being the product of a concerted tactical effort. John Spencer has tried pairing him with Perlaza, Darlington Nagbe, and nobody (leaving him on his own), but nothing’s really worked. As a result, a team expected to contend for a playoff spot sits six points back of fifth place.

It was time for a shake up.

“Danny is an experienced, young player who has shown that he can be productive in this league during his time with Philadelphia,” Spencer said. “He has roots in Portland, his family still lives here, and we look forward to getting him integrated into the team quickly.”

Mwanga’s clearly going to be partnered with Boyd. Darlington Nagbe will stay at the tip of Spencer’s midfield diamond, perpetuating another Portland problem: Their best goal scorer might be one too many levels away from goal.

For Philadelphia, the implications are clearer. Perlaza replaces Mwanga as an alternate attacking option. If he impresses Peter Nowak, he could challenge Lionard Pajoy for playing time (or perhaps Nowak starts playing with two strikers more often). Regardless, this is a situation where Philadelphia’s getting a ‘maybe’ in exchange for a ‘no’ (Mwanga hadn’t scored in 458 minutes of playing time this season).

The big benefit for Phliadelphia is getting Mwanga’s contract off their books. Mwanga is making over $350,000 on a deal that’s expected to escalate again next season. That’s a lot for somebody who’s not contributing. Perlaza, in contrast, makes $115,000.

With a talented prospect rotting on their bench, Philadelphia needed to move Mwanga for whatever they could get. At the same time, Portland needed a shake up in attack.

Now, Portland can move forward. In Philadelphia, however, a one-time symbol of hope has been let go in a cost-cutting move.

Seeing their team sitting ninth in the East, how are Union fans supposed to feel about that?

  1. tackledummy1505 - Jun 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Union fans feel like we are getting milked for every cent we have. We have a ton of money, one of the lowest salaries, and we have a roster filled with second rate 30 year olds. Lol yet the message is we are building for the future. I for one want these owners and Nowak, to sell out, pack up shop and get out of our city and country. They made their last dime out of most of us here. Enough is enough.

  2. tackledummy1505 - Jun 6, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    That’s what happens when you have foreign owners. They could care less about us fans or our city. They were here to make money and that’s what they’re doing.

  3. firewolf777 - Jun 6, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    That’s fine he will be missed, but shit happens he has not proven enough.

  4. tackledummy1505 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    He was fine with Le Toux and I think he’ll be better off with Kris Boyd

  5. jwb07 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    It’s completely unfair to just say Mwanga hasn’t produced. First of all, he has not gotten consistent minutes to get into any kind of rhythm or build any confidence. He’s a young guy who needs opportunities to get into the flow of the game. Second of all, look what he’s stuck playing with. Next to him, he has a slow strike partner with an awful touch and often drifts lazily to one wing or the other, forcing Mwanga to do all the genuine work at forward. On top of that, he’s play in front of a disjointed midfield that claims to play a possession game, but can more often be seen aimlessly lobbing balls up field and not providing anything that can rationally be describe as “service”.

    Never in sports have I seen such an intentional implosion of a team the way the Philadelphia Union has deconstructed a promising playoff team from last year into the unwatchable mess that has taken the field this season. If you want to save money, get rid of Pajoy (if you want to complain about Mwanga’s returns, take a look at this guys performance.. abysmal) or Porforio Lopez, who has no business on an MLS field.

    This team is a laughing stock, and this management group HAS to go. For how much goodwill this team started with, it’s amazing how quickly they have burned that bridge. A golden opportunity has been squandered, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say this season will cost the Union for many years to come (fans are checking out). I am refusing to pay another dime in that stadium until Nowak and Sakiewicz are out.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      You provided good reasons why he hasn’t produced, but no goals in over 450 minutes? There’s no room for discussion. He hasn’t produced.

      It’s unfair to say anything else.

      • jwb07 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        It’s unfair to blame him for not producing. He’s shown he can produce and produce well. Pajoy has 974 minutes, 3 goals (2 in one game, paired WITH Mwanga who took a lot of the pressure away from Pajoy), only 22 shots, and only 7 on frame. That’s 1 shot on goal every 140 minutes of play, yet he starts every single match, including Open Cup and friendlies. It’s pathetic. At least Mwanga has upside.

      • Richard Farley - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:51 PM

        Who was blaming him? And where?

        I didn’t go out of my way of absolve him, either, but I think you’re reading something that’s not there. This post isn’t about why Mwanga wasn’t producing. It just noted he wasn’t.

      • jwb07 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:56 PM

        Fair enough.. just so frustrated with this team and really can’t understand what’s happened since December. What seemed like so much promise has abruptly turned to despair.

        In my opinion, Mwanga shouldn’t have been shipped out. He should have gotten a chance to at least see how he played off another striker (Martinez, Hoffman, Herdling even) before abandoning him completely.

        Nowak on the other hand.. can’t wait for the day we say good riddance.

      • Ed Farnsworth - Jun 7, 2012 at 8:06 AM

        If your point is performance based, I’m not sure why you keep repeating the fact that Mwanga has no goals in over 450 minutes this season (it’s 458 minutes: one assist; five shots, two on target). Perlaza has no goals in 490 minutes (zero assists; seven shots, two on target). Is it also fair to say he hasn’t produced?

      • Richard Farley - Jun 7, 2012 at 8:37 AM

        i say it once in the piece, and of course

  6. budangelo7 - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Great article. As a founding member, SOB, and a top 100 fan, I feel the young talent on this team is wasted because the staff can’t teach skills. Danny’s lack of production is from language barrier,no skills growth, injuries, and being pressed to produce against his current skill set. He still has a great up side. Perlaza will help the current set up with his speed and crossing ability as well as being able to talk to Pajoy. His shooting accuracy I feel won’t improve as no one on the team has improved. The union must either add to the staff or change it to improve. I agree with the article that the Union saved money and may be the same or slightly improved, but the fan base will not see the benefit of Nowak’s financial ability but will see this as another failure to use talent and call for his dismissal.

  7. Mel - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    This team’s leadership decisions vary…they range from horrible to terrible. A player who has done what Mwanga has done throughout his career doesn’t “regress” at age 20-21. That’s coaching and man management, particularly upon return from injury. Mwanga will do very well in his hometown, but he -and LeToux- had made Philly their hometown, and were treated like they were lepers…while Houston does whatever it can to (re)secure Brian Ching because legacy and continuity matter, the Union’s fiscal policy takes the only players my wife and kids cared about – LeToux, Mwanga and Califf – and defecate on the very possibility of legacy with how Nowacky treated them. My kids no longer express their own interest in the team anymore. And that type of thing will produce the real bottom line. Me? I’m not trading in any of my Union keepsakes, but my passion HAS to be on hold until I understand the thinking of this franchise,,,they’ve broken my heart again and again…and what, exactly, do they have to show for it??? Who will be responsible for their position in the league? Who will beheld accountable when Mwanga flourishes? When the Union fail to progress the way they were talking about Mwanga “failing?”. Horrible.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United