Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
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
Report: Frisco favorite for Hall of Fame site    
The late Lamar Hunt settled on Frisco, Texas, as the home for his MLS team, FC ...
MLS's new gold standard    
Heading into the final two months of the MLS regular season, D.C. United leads the Eastern ...
Giovinco out of Italy's Euro 2016 qualifiers    
Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco's return to the Italian national team after an absence of almost ...
What They're Saying: Mesut Ozil    
"Basti showed the entire world what kind of a leader he is at the World Cup. ...
Spector recalled for first time in 18 months    
Short on outside backs, U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called veteran defender Jonathan ...
What They're Saying: Brad Guzan    
"You always have someone either pushing you, or you're pushing someone else. That's the nature of ...
New York City FC gets Nemec off its books    
Slovakian Adam Nemec, the symbol of New York City FC's troubled season, is gone. The club ...
Making a List: European Summer Transfers, U.S. Abroad    
The European transfer market closed with little summer activity among Americans. Only a handful of Americans ...
Video Pick: Five fabulous misses from the Bundesliga    
Schadenfreude from the folks Bundesliga, who compiled the "best" squandered chances to score easy goals from ...
DeAndre Yedlin loaned to Sunderland     
American defender DeAndre Yedlin, who last January left the Seattle Sounders for Tottenham Hotspur, has moved ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives