SPRINGFIELD, Pa. – Philadelphia Union rookie sensation Danny Mwanga has confirmed that he has been contacted by national-team representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo about wearing the country’s colors on the international level.
“I’ve been in touch with a couple of guys [from the Congolese national team] and I told them that I wanted to finish my season here first and to think about what I’m going to do,” Mwanga told MLSsoccer.com. “I told them that I was thinking about joining the US national team as well. So they know that and respect my decision that I’m taking my time before I decide which side I’m going to play for.”
After a debut MLS season in which he has become a consensus candidate for the MLS Rookie of the Year award, the 19-year-old forward already has US fans projecting about his national-team prospects. He is currently working on his US citizenship, but there is no clear timeline for it.
“I was trying not to think about it during the season,” Mwanga said. “I wanted to focus on the Union’s season. Now that we’re almost done with the season, it’s something I have to sit down and think about it. I haven’t made a decision yet to play for Congo or for USA.
“I’m not in a rush. I’ve talked to a lot of people who to tell me to take my time. I’m still young and I still have a lot of time to think about it.”
With his seven goals and four assists, Mwanga has two games remaining to convince voters regarding the Rookie of the Year award. It starts with a high-profile match on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls and newcomer Tim Ream, perhaps Mwanga’s biggest competition for the honor.
[inline_node:287708]A separated left shoulder has prevented the former Oregon State University forward from finishing his season with a bang. He has only started two of the last five Union matches but he says it won’t stop him from starting Saturday and it should definitely not cost him in the rookie award race.
“When I was 100 percent, I had my chance and stepped on the field,” he said. “I was supposed to do what I was supposed to do. In the end, it’s going to be up to the people who are going to vote. At the same time, it doesn’t really bother me. I’m excited that I had a great season my first year and I’m looking forward to getting better and better to do more damage next year.”
Mwanga says he wants to work on being a more physical forward and make better use of his vision, as well as working on putting himself in more dangerous positions around the opposition’s goal, something with which he’s been struggling.
What he does have going for him is his confidence. Seven goals as a rookie and a standout performance against Manchester United in July will do that for you.
“I don’t think I surpassed my expectations [in 2010],” he said. “I was coming in as a young forward and I was drafted No. 1, and so a lot of people were expecting a lot from me. I came in and tried to help my team right away and scored a couple of goals, which I did. At the same time there is a lot of room for improvement.”