PBPP: Mwanga Continues to Impress in 2010

Dellacamera: Mwanga appears to be Rookie of the Year favorite

At the start of the season,
Danny Mwanga looked like anything but a Rookie of the Year candidate in
MLS. Now, beyond the halfway
point of the season, the 19-year-old looks like the clear favorite to claim
this trophy.

His numbers, seven goals and three assists, are more impressive when you realize that he’s played in just 14 total
games, and started just nine. How about his goals in
stoppage time in three consecutive games?

If you look at his goal last
weekend against Colorado, it was a thing of beauty. Breaking it down in slow
motion, it was a great example of his skill, poise, and coordination. At real speed, it was more stunning. After missing two games with a groin
injury, Danny now has scored goals in back-to-back games.

Mwanga seems to have it all - some size, speed, skill, and confidence. He also has a great teacher in Peter Nowak who has brought him along at
the right pace. These days you can
see a big difference in Danny from game one in Seattle to game 19 vs the
Rapids.

Today, Mwanga is making
better runs, at the correct time. He is reading the game quicker than he was at the start of the year. The
teenager is also adjusting more to the physical play of MLS.

While there is plenty of room
for improvement, he’s on the right track, or maybe the fast track to break the
MLS rookie goal scoring record. That record, 11 goals, belongs to Damani Ralph who established the mark
in 2003.

He has given a lot of credit
to his teammates for his progress, citing Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro
Moreno, and Danny Califf.

If you’re wondering about
Califf, the Union captain told the rookie he would go hard against him in
training every day, saying that’s the only way the he would get
better. It seems like Califf is a
pretty good teacher, and Mwanga, a good student.

After playing four games in 10
days, the Union have just the one game this week at DC United. I’ll preview that match later this
week.

In the meantime, here are some talking points this
week in MLS:

  • Real Salt Lake are now
    unbeaten at home in 21 consecutive games.
  • Despite all of their talent,
    the New York Red Bulls have been shutout in two of their last three games, scoring
    just one goal.
  • FC Dallas are now unbeaten in
    10 games. Did anyone see that
    coming?
  • And San Jose has signed their
    first Designated Player, Geovanni. The 30-year-old midfielder
    brings skill and experience to the Quakes, who hope he can be the missing piece
    to their playoff hopes.

Related:

Mwanga Challenging Rookie Scoring Record

VOTE: Mwanga for AT&T Goal of the Week