At the time, it seemed to many Portland Timbers fans a fairly reasonable trade for both sides. Neither player had done much for their teams in the current year, and a change of scenery might have helped all parties.
In fact, the Philadelphia Union might have been seen as having had a slight advantage, unloading an inconsistent striker very expensive for his age, while gaining an experienced Colombian striker to line up alongside his countryman, Lionard Pajoy.
Of course, taken in the context of the other controversial moves Nowak had already made in 2012 -- Sebastien Le Toux for allocation money and Danny Califf for Michael Lahoud -- the Mwanga-Perlaza trade was widely interpreted as the latest in a series of personally motivated trades, all characteristic of Nowak's unraveling.
And indeed, Nowak was canned a week later.
In August Perlaza was released from his contract after having appeared just twice, meaning Philadelphia ultimately got nothing but cap space out of the deal.
Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Mwanga made eighteen appearances, seven starts, and scored three goals for the Timbers, all against the eventual Supporters Shield victors.
So, good move?
Geoff Gibson: A-
I think the trade for Danny Mwanga in exchange for Jorge Perlaza was a fairly easy trade to make. I'm not sure who initiated the transfer but it was either a brilliant move by the Portland Timbers or an insane move by the Philadelphia Union.
In any case, the facts are clear: despite having a higher salary, Danny Mwanga is younger, more technical, and has scored more goals for the Timbers this year than Jorge Perlaza. Obviously there are other factors to consider, but it's hard to see where Mwanga isn't an upgrade in every possible way over Perlaza.
My singular worry is that, with his high salary, will he be used next year? The Timbers have a glut of young attacking forwards right now.
Stacey Neve: A
Ever since the Union first appeared intent on trading away all if their good and/or most popular players, I had been hoping the Timbers would make a move for Mwanga. I still hope to see more from him going forward than we've seen so far, but I would rather have an under-performing young player than an older guy who's maybe just not that good.
William Conwell: B+
I loved this trade when it happened and I love it still, but I am still not sold on it being the highway robbery that some believe. Sure, Piotr Nowak's final days with the Union were pretty inscrutable, but the Timbers took on a lot more than just Danny Mwanga with this trade, they also took on his contract. Mwanga is now among the highest paid players on the team and, although he is a local boy who showed some moments of brilliance in his few minutes on the pitch, he is really going to need to do something special next year to justify his pay.
Of course, the same can be said of a number of players on the Timbers currently.