Offensive balance the key to Perlaza deal for Union

Speedy striker brings new dimension to Philadelphia's attack

Perlaza Timbers

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CHESTER, Pa. -- Union manager Peter Nowak believes Jorge Perlaza has the speed and skill to stretch the field and create space for his teammates.

Philadelphia acquired the 27-year-old striker from Portland on Tuesday in exchange for Danny Mwanga.

“From a technical standpoint, both teams were looking for, not change per se, but a complement for the strikers they have,” Nowak told reporters on Thursday. “Portland has Kris Boyd, who is a target striker. They need to complement him with something. With us, with Lionard Pajoy, we tried different components, to find a way to put 2-3 strikers (on the field), and for this reason we were looking (to make the trade).”

Perlaza has tallied six goals two assists in 41 appearances with Portland, including 32 starts.

The Colombian’s best trait is his blistering speed. He likes to make diagonal runs behind the opponent’s defenders and is very active in the final third.

“Danny Mwanga is very good with the ball at his feet,” explained Nowak. “He’s good at withdrawing the defenders a bit, but it was difficult for him to stretch the field. I think with Jorge right now we can stretch the field and make it bigger, and make better runs off Pajoy. (Pajoy) can find good spots. He had a tremendous game in D.C. He was very effective on the wings. So I think both teams can find good complements for their lineups."

Perlaza typically played in a straight 4-4-2 system in Portland. His partnership with Kenny Cooper in the 2011 season showed signs of promise but was mostly inconsistent.  

With the signing of Kris Boyd and the emergence of youngster Darlington Nagbe, Perlaza moved around a bit, sometimes pairing Boyd and sometimes coming off the bench as a second half spark plug.

Portland fans lauded Perlaza for his work ethic and off-the-ball running but analysts say he could have scored more goals.

When asked about his new striker’s finishing abilities, Nowak encouraged Perlaza to continue shooting.

"He’s a guy that’s not afraid to pull the trigger," Nowak said. "And I think it’s important to try to look, whatever the statistics are, to look at this too."

Ideally, Perlaza can play up top with Pajoy in a 4-4-2 shape. He can also play wide left or wide right in the more recent 4-3-3 that was first deployed in the Schalke 04 friendly. The Union won both U.S. Open Cup matches playing in this more free-flowing formation.

Perlaza will also have the advantage of playing on a larger grass field at PPL Park. The striker’s speed was at least partially neutralized on the smaller turf layout at JELD-WEN Field.

"It’s a good trade for both teams and both guys have a fresh start with new teams as well,” said Nowak.

WATCH: Perlaza nets first-ever goal at JELD-WEN