The Inside Doop: First draft pick Mwanga gone


Despite not having played a league game in more than two weeks, things havent exactly been quiet for the Philadelphia Union.

The MLS club has won two straight U.S. Open Cup games to move into the tournaments quarterfinals, and is currently in between two exhibitions against their player development affiliates.

And, of course, last week also marked the farewell of Danny Mwangathe clubs first-ever draft pick, who was dealt to Portland for Jorge Perlaza. Since the trade continues to generate a lot of buzz, I thought Id share my thoughts on the deal leading into the Unions next league game this weekend.

Three thoughts about the Mwanga trade

1. Strictly on paper, the trade is a relatively even one. Both Mwanga and Perlaza possess a lot of talent but have failed to live up to the hype in a relatively short time in MLS. And both are mired in goal-scoring droughts, in part due to failing to mesh well with their playing partner up top. Could a change of scenery do wonders for both players? Could this be one of those rare trades that works out perfectly for both teams? Its certainly possible but

2. The main reason, I think, fans dont seem to like the trade is because its another player tied to the franchises inception thats now gone. Fans love all players on the team they root for; its part of being a fan. But in the case of Mwanga, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Califf and other Union originals, it seems that love is amplified because they were all a part of something new and special, together. The 2010 Union expansion team will always have a place in Philly sports lore. But who knew it would be almost entirely disassembled so soon?

3. With the other trades, questionable as they might have been, the Union maintained they had a vision for the future. And, above all else, that vision seemed to be building their team around a talented young core. Considering Mwanga is only 20 years old, this trade does not fall in line with that strategy. If anything, it shows the Union might be more concerned with turning things around this season and finding more offensive weapons to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. To be fair, Perlaza is just 26 and has plenty of room to grow with this team. But no player was more tied to the Unions youth movement than Mwanga, who will now look to grow into a star in his home city of Portland, nearly 3,000 miles from where his professional career began.

Three questions for the upcoming week

1. Before the Union return to MLS play with a game against D.C. United on Saturday at PPL Park (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), they take on the Harrisburg City Islanders on Tuesday at Hersheypark Stadium (7 p.m.) in their second friendly in four days. The exhibition is an interesting one because the Union play Harrisburgtheir USL-Pro affiliatetwo weeks later in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. So the main question is will the Union go with most of their youngsters and deep reserves as they did against Reading United A.C. on Saturday or go with a lineup more closely in line with their upcoming USOC game? To avoid tipping their hand, the former seems more likely.

2. When the Union take the field opposite D.C. United on Saturday, it will be their first league game in three weeks. Will they be able to carry the momentum theyve created with two straight U.S. Open Cup victories? Or will they revert back to the team that lost to cellar-dweller Toronto in their last MLS outing? Its certainly not a must-win but it will be a very telling game.

3. There are many questions regarding the formation and lineup for Saturdays contest. Perhaps the most interesting one is at striker, where starter Lionard Pajoy will serve a one-game suspension. It seems likely Perlaza will start in his first game with the Union, and he could be joined by Chandler Hoffman, Antoine Hoppenot or Jack McInerney, all of whom scored goals in the past week. With Roger Torres now healthy, the Union could also go with just one striker and a five-man midfield, as they did earlier in the season.

Fact of the week: Since 2011, Perlaza has made 12 more starts than Mwanga but only scored one more goal and collected three less assists. Mwanga has also put nine more shots on target than Perlaza.

Quote of the week: Our team is still very young. Were still bringing along our young kids. Its not like were moving away from that philosophy but its important to find the right pieces into the team you already have.Union manager Peter Nowak following the Mwanga-for-Perlaza trade
Player of the week: One of only three Union originals remaining, Amobi Okugo has come on strong of late. And the third-year player out of UCLA was perhaps the best player on the field while filling in at center back in the Unions overtime win over D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup last Tuesday.

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for and Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.

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