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
No. 1 draft pick Danny Mwanga handles the pressure
by Ridge Mahoney, September 16th, 2010 1:59AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, philadelphia union

MOST COMMENTED

[INTERVIEW] The No. 1 draft pick in this year’s SuperDraft came to America from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) after his father was killed in a 1997 civil war. Relocated to Oregon, where he rejoined his mother and three sisters, Danny Mwanga played two seasons of college ball at Oregon State and did enough that Philadelphia coach Peter Nowak took him right off the top. He’s the leading scorer among MLS rookies with seven goals and four assists.

SOCCER AMERICA: There’s always pressure on a No. 1 draft pick, but to be a teenager (19) playing up front for an expansion team is a tough assignment. How do you evaluate your adaptation to the pro game so far?
DANNY MWANGA: Obviously I’m very lucky because not many young players get a chance to come in their first year and get that time to play. I was lucky to fall under the hand of Peter, he’s a wonderful coach and he’s given me a lot of opportunity. I’m getting time to play and a lot of guys on the team are helping me out on the things I need to improve.

SA: Your father died tragically when you were very young. Who has given you guidance through your new life in America and into professional soccer?
MWANGA:
First, I have to thank God because he took me here and I never thought I’d be here in my life. He is the one who made the path for me. Second is my family, my mom and my [three] sisters, they have been behind me and supporting me since I was little until now, and that’s a good thing.

SA: They are in Oregon and you’re clear across the country in Philadelphia. How often do you get to see them?
MWANGA:
We travel a lot and it’s a long season so I don’t get to see them a lot. When we had two weeks off after the World Cup I went home. Other than that I talk to them, I talk to my mom and my sisters on the phone almost every night.

I don’t have any relatives or family in Philly except for my teammates.

SA: For a lot of reasons there’s great interest in any young forward who’s shown a knack for scoring goals in MLS and could play for the United States. Have you decided which country you will represent?
MWANGA:
That’s a good question. I have been here for four years and my family is here so I consider the USA to be my home. But at the same time I was born in western Congo and that’s where I started playing soccer, so that will be a decision I will have to make. Right now I’m trying to focus on finishing the season and after that we’ll see what’s going to happen.

SA: You’re not an American citizen. What is your residency status?
MWANGA:
I have a green card, so it’s in the process, but we’ll just have to see what happens.

SA: You are playing with a lot of experienced players, and attackers like Sebastien Le Toux and Alejandro Moreno. How are they helping you adapt to the pro game?
MWANGA:
Even just playing on top of them during the game, they’re giving you hints and telling you what to do. Then just watching them during the game, how they move and handle pressure, how they handle the defenders, you watch that and you learn a lot as well.

When I came in I knew it was a different level and I just wanted to work hard and earn my way on the field. I just happen to be that way and I keep working harder and harder because there’s a lot of room for improvement.

SA: And does battling every day with a defender like Danny Califf, who has played for the U.S. national team and in Europe, educate you as well?
MWANGA:
Definitely. Going against Danny in practice is like playing in a championship game. He goes in hard to make me stronger, because he knows that’s how the league is and what you have to do if you want to score goals.



No comments yet.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
ICYMI | MLS: Dynamo breaks crowd record    
The Houston Dynamo set an attendance record at BBVA Compass Stadium, while Crew SC drew its ...
USA's Road to Russia begins in St. Louis    
The USA will open 2018 World Cup qualifying Nov. 13 against the winner of the series ...
What They're Saying: Landon Donovan    
"I always thought if I was in that position I would kind of keep my cool ...
Drogba and Gilberto: A tale of two DPs    
Chicago didn't get its top choice but it did upgrade its attack by signing Gilberto, using ...
MLS Power Rankings: Big win pushes FCD into top spot    
There's a new leader in Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings after a big win by FC ...
Player Ratings: USA reaches new low in Klinsmann era    
Of the 16 matches the USA has played at competitive tournaments in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, ...
European draw for 2018 World Cup produces enticing groups    
A group with former World Cup champions Spain and Italy and another with Netherlands, France and ...
What They're Saying: Mauricio Pochettino    
"[MLS All-Stars coach] Pablo [Mastroeni] and I share something. Pablo is Argentine like me, same nationality.  ...
High times don't faze Tottenham manager    
For many of Tottenham's players, playing at altitude, even in the Mile-High City of Denver at ...
Three-time gold-medalist Boxx will retire after fall tour    
Shannon Boxx, who won three Olympic gold medals to go along with her Women's World Cup ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives