No matter the outcome of today’s match at Los Angeles, the spotlight will shine on Danny Mwanga as the Portland Timbers return from an extended break.
Acquired in a June 6 trade that sent Jorge Perlaza to Philadelphia, Mwanga is expected to see his first action today alongside Kris Boyd, though the forwards trained together for the first time on Wednesday.
Boyd, who was married in Scotland during the Timbers’ 18-day break from competition, said after the Wednesday morning training session that Mwanga looked right at home.
“The way we trained this morning, it looks like he’s been here all his life. It’s good for him. It’s good for the team to have striking options,” Boyd said. “I’m sure he’ll be looking to start on the weekend and to get himself on the scoresheet.”
Timbers coach John Spencer said that Mwanga will get playing time against the Galaxy.
The top overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of Oregon State, Mwanga hasn’t scored a goal in 11 months. His playing time was limited with a Philadelphia team in flux. Question is, how quickly can he have an impact for a Timbers team that has struggled to convert scoring opportunities?
“He’s a good soccer player, that’s undoubted,” Spencer said. “He would agree with most that he hasn’t made the impact in the league he would have hoped to. It’s up to us to put him in an environment where he feels cared about and he feels respected. I think if you do that and you put him with good players like we’ve got he’ll be a success here.”
How long might it take for Mwanga and Boyd to form a successful partnership?
“Sometimes it takes weeks,” Boyd said. “And there’s other players that you click with straight away.”
As far as Spencer is concerned, striker pairs don’t need a lot of time to be effective together.
“It comes down to the players themselves,” the coach said. “If you want to make it work, you’ll make it work. You’ll do everything you can in your power to help your partner and your teammates become successful.”