By ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — The result did not go according to plan in Danny Mwanga's debut for the Portland Timbers, but the flashy forward had plenty to be pleased about in his first match for his hometown club.
In his first match for the Timbers since being dealt from the Philadelphia Union on June 6th, Mwanga put in a solid 90 minute shift for Portland in their 1-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy while showcasing flashes of the skill that made him the top pick in the 2010 MLS Draft.
In the first half in particular, Mwanga was active while linking-up Scottish forward Kris Boyd, but began to show rust as the the second half progress. Although Mwanga was unable to score, Portland head coach John Spencer was encouraged with the forward's performance against the Galaxy.
”I thought he did well in the first half. I thought he looked a little fatigued in the second half like a couple guys did," said Spencer. "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 tired a little bit.”
The Galaxy match was undoubtedly a learning experience for Mwanga, who struggled to find consistent time in Philadelphia prior to being traded for Jorge Perlaza. Against the Galaxy, Mwanga's best opportunity to score came in the 39th minute when he fired a header on frame that was easily handled by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Goal or not, Mwanga was pleased with his debut for Portland.
"I think it felt okay. It wasn’t bad at all," said Mwanga. "It was my first game with the team and we had a pretty good first half as we created a lot of chances and I felt like we came out in the second half much better. Overall, we got unlucky and overall it was a good game."
While Mwanga remains a work in progress so too is his partnership with Boyd. Prior to the Galaxy match, the pair had trained together only a handful of times as Boyd missed considerable time during the international break to get married.
At times against the Galaxy, the pair were dangerous in the final third, but were ultimately unable to find an equalizing Following the match, Mwanga expressed optimism that an effective partnership is in the works for the goal desperate Timbers.
“It’s only our first game together I think we did pretty well," said Mwanga. "We had numerous chances in the first 15-20 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.”
Even though the result in his Timbers debut did not go according to plan, Mwanga believes that success is right around the corner for him and for Portland.
"It feels good [to be here] It’s a good team and we have a lot of talented players," said Mwanga. "If we play the same way that we play in the first half [more often] than I think things will go well."