CHESTER PA - AUGUST 14: Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union heads the ball during the game against the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park on August 14 2010 in Chester Pennsylvania. The match ended in a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Danny Mwanga was the first pick the Philadelphia Union made in the 2010 Superdraft. After having a solid rookie campaign, Mwanga is ready and excited to get back on the field for both his and the Union's sophomore season. The following quotes from Mwanga come from PhiladelphiaUnion.com
"You know, it was tough because the MLS season is so much longer," said Mwanga, the Union’s dynamic forward who just completed a successful rookie season. "The training was harder, the games were more physical and it took a toll at times. The staff here did a great job preparing us for the long season. I feel like I’m going to be a better player next season because I’ll be that much more prepared."
The adjustment from the college game to MLS is not always an easy one, but Danny Mwanga certainly impressed in his rookie year. High expectations were set for him coming out of Oregon State, and while you can't measure a guy up to initial expectations after only 24 games, there is reason to be optimistic.
"I was so happy to hear my name from the commissioner, especially with going to Philadelphia," Mwanga said. "I was happy because of the staff they had put together. The organization was strong, and I was so happy to be the first pick. I took a lot of pride in that, and it made me feel good to contribute like I did to the club. I just tried to get better every day to do what I could do to improve the club."
"When they opened PPL Park, I was like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing place,’" Mwanga said. "To play in front of these fans was unbelievable. They pushed us all the time and they were behind us all the way. After games, they stayed around and it was so cool to talk to them and sign autographs. They knew so much about the sport. Knowing that we got better all season, and seeing their support, well, it made it even more exciting for us as players."
High praise from Mwanga toward the Union fans. And while it is kind of hard to foresee anyone saying any Union players saying anything bad about Union fans for PR reasons, it is nice to see the players give off this kind of high praise toward the Union fans.
"This league (MLS) is very strong," Mwanga said. "There are so many good players spread throughout the entire league. Every night, you’re competing against incredible talent and you have to be prepared. For young players like myself, it was good to go through the league already to see how the talent is spread out. I really think that MLS is underrated in terms of its overall strength. I thought it was so tough all the way through and it made us all better because of the competition we faced every game."
Someone tell that to the makers of FIFA Soccer 11, where all MLS teams are extremely low rated.
“I will spend some quiet time with family and friends and then get right back to work,” Mwanga said. “Soccer is a year-round sport now, and I can see that. You have to stay fit and be ready to play. I will take some down time to get ready mentally. I’m very much looking forward to my second MLS season. I expect the club to have some new faces. I think the organization is so focused on winning and doing it the right way. I could see that from the beginning.
“I’m very excited for next season. We want to show even more improvement for ourselves and for our great fans. I think the playoffs are a good goal to have. I think we should focus on that while improving every day.”
With a young team like the Union, it will be very fun to see how they transition from their first year working together into the next one. Guys like Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Amodi Okugo, and Roger Torres now have one more year of experience and should be even better in 2011 than they were in 2010. Danny Mwanga is excited for the 2011 campaign. Are you?