Timbers Notebook: Mwanga comes up empty in debut
Danny Mwanga's Portland Timbers debut didn't exactly start with a bang.
The Timbers fell to the LA Galaxy 1-0 on Sunday, and the former Union forward, acquired in a trade for Jorge Perlaza, had just one shot on goal as his new team’s punchless attack was once again held scoreless.
Despite the lack of production, the reviews weren't half bad.
"I thought he did well in the first half," Timbers head coach John Spencer said. "I thought he looked a little fatigued in the second half like a couple guys did. He obviously hasn't been playing regular football for a number of weeks so the quicker we get him up to speed and get his game fitness, it will be better for him. I thought his hold-up play at times was good, but second half he tired a little bit."
Mwanga's 90 minutes against the Galaxy marked the first time he had played a full shift since May 19. The 20-year-old started just five games in Philadelphia before coming to Portland two weeks ago.
His lone shot came in the 39th minute on a header off a Jack Jewsbury cross. The attempt, one of four shots on target by Portland, was cleaned up by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
"Beginning the game … I feel like we were definitely the better side," Mwanga said. "We had more chances scoring goals, we were just very unlucky not to put those away. I feel like we came in the second half, maybe we didn't bring the same intensity we brought in the first half."
Mwanga only had two training sessions together with fellow striker Kris Boyd, who left the team to get married during their three-week break.
"It's only our first game together, I think we did pretty well," Mwanga said. "We had numerous chances in the first 15 to 20 minutes to score a goal, and it was just unlucky not to put that away. I think just looking back, it's only our first game together I think we did really decent."
Spencer was critical of the game's only goal and questioned the work of head referee Geoff Gamble after Landon Donovan appeared to obstruct Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins on Todd Dunivant’s game-winner off a David Beckham corner kick.
WATCH: Perkins argues Dunivant goal
Perkins was issued a yellow card for dissent following the play.
"I think Landon comes in as Troy is getting his eyes on the ball, he just kind of barges into him," Spencer said. "So maybe the linesman didn't realize that when you barge into the goalkeeper in the six-yard box it's a foul. Obviously, Troy feels he's been impeded there."
Spencer also took to task two offside calls that went against his team, one off a throw-in and another called against Boyd in the penalty area.
"There's a couple calls in the first half where we get our offside from a throw in, which in the laws of the game tell you can't be offside from a throw in,” he said. “Then David Beckham heads a ball back and Kris Boyd chases the ball and the linesman flags him for offside.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.