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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The Union are about to send another striker to the Pacific Northwest.

Just got confirmation --- from probably the most reliable source involved --- that Danny Mwanga has been traded to the Portland Timbers. In return, the Union receive Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza, who will not occupy an international roster spot.

"I am traded," Mwanga told me in a brief phone conversation Wednesday. "I heard about it maybe two days ago that it was something in the process.

"It was a surprise, yes."

This trade is the latest in a number of head-scratching moves by the Union, who in the calendar year have sent packing all-star goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, traded all-star striker Sebastien Le Toux and fan-favorite defender Danny Califf, the club's captain.

The common thread in these personnel moves is that the Union are slashing payroll as they are readying to make a big splash during the midsummer international transfer window. (According to the MLS Player Union, which released 2012 salary figures last month, Mwanga is owed $356,000 this year in guaranteed compensation.)

But one question remains: Will it be worth it? The ninth-place Union (2-7-2) are closer to last place in the Eastern Conference (with only five points separating them from Toronto FC) than the fifth and final playoff spot out of the East (with Chicago holding 18 points in the table).

Drafted as the fresh face of the franchise, Mwanga was the first overall draft choice in the 2010 SuperDraft, out of Oregon State. So this represents somewhat of a homecoming for the 20-year-old striker, who's had his numbers tail off since his rookie season. He had seven goals and five assists in 2010, five goals in 2011 and none in 2012.

His production dropoff has been well-documented, and it has plenty to do with minutes played. Consider: In 2010, he averaged 61 minutes per appearance and a point every 133 minutes. In 2011, he pulled in only 55 minutes per appearance and a point every 170 minutes. This season, averaging only 41 minutes per appearance, he’s had a point every 285 minutes.

Tuesday night, Mwanga was left home and omitted from the Union's 18-man roster for the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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