Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
From Congo to Philly via Oregon
by Mike Woitalla, January 15th, 2010 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS SUPERDRAFT] Danny Mwanga hardly left his house during the first couple months after he arrived in the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo at age 14. "I didn't know anyone and I didn't know the language," says the No. 1 pick at the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. A soccer ball and a nearby park changed all that.

When he lived in Kinshasa, Mwanga played pickup soccer everyday, from when school ended at 1 pm, until 6 pm. His mother left the war-torn central African nation in 2001 in search of a better, safer life in the USA. Mwanga's father had died when Danny was 9, a victim of the Second Congo War, which took more than 4 million lives.

"It was very hard being away from my mother," says Danny, who joins MLS newcomer Philadelphia Union. "We talked sometimes on the phone. I waited and waited for the day we would finally be together again."

Mwanga lived with his grandmother, uncles and his three older sisters for four years until the day finally arrived when he and his sisters left to join their mother in Oregon.

He had heard about MLS while in Africa thanks to coverage of Freddy Adu signing with MLS. He had seen some of the USA's World Cup games, and knew the name Landon Donovan. But he had no idea of what soccer would be like for him in Oregon.

When he finally ventured outside of his house to the local park, he met some other soccer-playing kids, including an Ethiopian immigrant named Habtamu.

"We didn't know each other's languages," says Mwanga, "but with soccer, we could communicate a little."

Habtamu attended Jefferson High School and when Mwanga enrolled, Habtamu helped him meet new friends. The French-speaking Mwanga spent most of his first year, 11th grade, mastering English, and by his second year was up to speed academically. He also starred on the varsity soccer team.

After graduation, and the retrieval of his secondary school transcripts from Kinsasha with the help of the U.S. State Department, Manga was eligible to play NCAA Division I ball for Oregon State. He played two seasons for the Beavers, scoring 18 goals in 29 games, before signing a Generation adidas contract and entering the MLS SuperDraft.

"He always loved soccer," said Mwanga's mother, Leontine. "But I never imagined he'd be a professional soccer player. We're all very proud."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Arsenal fan Michael Babbett    
"I've vaguely heard of him. He's in the background of my head. But not really?" -- ...
Video Pick: Injured player hit by medicial cart    
The use of a golf cart is apparently meant to expedite medical treatment on the field, ...
U.S. Abroad: Johannsson scores, Kljestan says goodbye    
Aron Johannsson scored his third goal in 10 games since returning to action in the Dutch ...
U.S. Abroad: Injury toll mounts    
Emerson Hyndman and Joe Gyau in Europe, Greg Garza at Tijuana, the news was not good ...
2015 MLS Preseason Action    
The first week of MLS preseason action concluded with wins for New England and Portland against ...
49ers and NBA Kings ante up on Sac MLS bid    
Sacramento Republic FC ownership continues to grow with the announcement that San Francisco 49ers owner and ...
U.S. women head to Europe without three stars    
Four months ahead of the 2015 Women's World Cup, the USA heads to Europe for friendlies ...
MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick will return    
Out-of-market packages MLS Live, MLS's subscription streaming service, and MLS Direct Kick, MLS's cable and satellite ...
What They're Saying: Paul Rogers    
"Did I want to pull out [of the U.S. team] this close to a World Cup? ...
MLS Trade Central: Agudelo returns to Revs    
The New England Revolution got a boost for its MLS title hopes when 22-year-old Juan Agudelo ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives