KeyBank Match-up: Danny Mwanga vs. LA's Defense
Jefferson High School phenom. Oregon State University star. Number #1 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year.
And now after all that, Danny Mwanga finds himself member of the Portland Timbers.
The arrival of Mwanga to the Rose City has generated a great deal of excitement. This Sunday, when the Timbers travel to take on the LA Galaxy (4pm PT, KPTV Fox 12, Timbers Television Network, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), it will be the first time fans could get a chance to see the new forward in Timbers green.
While there is definitely the feel good story of Mwanga's return to Portland, he was brought here with a prime directive: help bolster the Timbers attack. Mwanga's abilities in previous seasons have been productive and enticing. The hopes for him to partner with the veteran Scottish striker Kris Boyd to produce a dynamic offense are palpable.
In facing LA, Mwanga will come up against a Galaxy backline that has been in flux all season. Surprisingly, the defending MLS Cup champions have yet to achieve a clean sheet in 2012.
With both teams looking to climb in the standings, how Mwanga is able to work with Boyd and the rest of the Timbers attack against the LA defense brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
Omar Gonzalez, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul, and Leonardo are all Galaxy defenders that show up on the latest MLS injury report. Gonzalez was a stalwart anchor for the Galaxy last season putting in a 2011 MLS Defender of the Year performance but has been out due to a knee injury picked up while on loan in Germany in the offseason. The highly touted Brazilian Leonardo is still out from a knee injury he suffered in 2011. Timbers fans saw him earlier in June in a Reserve League game at JELD-WEN Field though his appearance was short-lived has he re-aggravated the injury.
But the Galaxy cupboard is far from bare. Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, and Sean Franklin have all put in numerous starts in 2012. Dunivant, an MLS Best XI selection in 2011 is particularly threatening both in defense and on the counterattack. And yet, the Galaxy sit in last in the Western Conference with a minus-6 goal differential.
Mwanga brings a strength on the ball that allows him to work free into areas to take powerful shots. Not afraid to fire from distance while also willing to attack directly, Mwanga will look to click with his new strike partner Boyd to push through an LA defense that has been inconsistent all season. Mwanga is still young and his ability and potential are well known. How he’s able to make the most of his opportunities on Sunday with his new team, though, could have all the makings of an exciting debut for the Rose City favorite.