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
Funniest Coach Clip of the Year     
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Far too often we see grown men wearing fancy suits throwing ...
Top two in East square off    
[MLS Week 24: Three Games to Watch] A week after Real Salt Lake beat Seattle, 2-1, ...
Tim Leiweke's five biggest MLS moves    
[MAKING A LIST] Tim Leiweke will go down as the man who made MLS think big. ...
Chivas USA sends Rosales to 'Caps for Reo-Coker    
[MLS TRANSACTIONS] Mauro Rosales is on the move again. After only nine months with Chivas USA, ...
Where to Watch European Soccer    
The new European club season has started up, so it's time to make plans for your ...
Johnson assists on Europa League winner    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Fabian Johnson made his competitive debut with Borussia Moenchengladbach, serving up the winning goal ...
The Whistle adds KickTV to offerings    
[SOCCER ON THE AIR] The Whistle Sports Network, which launched on YouTube in January, has reached ...
Tim Howard will take year off from national team    
[USA MEN] Ahead of Jurgen Klinsmann's first roster announcement since the World Cup, star goalkeeper Tim ...
What They're Saying: Landon Donovan    
"I don't think I can say what he said without being fined, but there were some ...
Irving steps down as Wilmington head coach    
[USL PRO] David Irving, the face of the Wilmington Hammerheads for 15 years, is stepping down ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives