I had the opportunity to chat with SBN's Brotherly Game's Scott Kessler about the recent trade between the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union. I will break our chat into the questions I asked and the questions he asked of me.
If memory serves me Mwanga has been in and out of Nowak's line-up. What has been the main reason for his lack of starts and his lack of production this year?
Mwanga seems to have been both disillusioned with the coaching staff and lacking any kind of physicality in game. He's rather tentative this year when it comes to playing on the ball or off of it, leaving him rather useless when given a chance to play. A lack of confidence combined with a drop in current ability level has left Mwanga with a disappointing season. At this point it's my belief that a change of scenery can bring back his rookie year form.
How do you see Perlaza fitting into the Union line-up?
He'll probably lineup alongside Lionard Pajoy, but Pajoy is suspended for the Union's next MLS game on June 16. I'd expect to see Perlaza and either Josue Martinez or Chandler Hoffman up front against D.C. United. The Union lack speed up front, but appeared to be heading toward starting rookie Antoine Hoppenot as a forward to alleviate that problem. Now Perlaza will give the team a new threat. If he manages to find any form then the Union's anemic offense (eight goals in 11 MLS games) might kick instead of sputter.
What about Mwanga's strengths and weaknesses? would he be able to play as a holding forward or interplay with other creative players like Darlington Nagbe?
Mwanga's strengths are his opportunism and his shot ability. He has the talent to playmaker when he's on the game, or to sit around the top of the 18 and wait for an open opportunity to launch a shot. Teams have begun to realize that his finishing is typically long range, which helped to prevent Mwanga from making any impact this year. He's got to have chemistry with his strike partner if he's going to do anything for Portland. He's also not a target striker. Rather he's more of a forward striker type that likes to play with a withdrawn forward. I don't know if Kris Boyd fits that bill as a poacher, but he has the potential to play well with Mwanga. Interplaying with Nagbe and Boyd, perhaps Chara as well, could help Mwanga move forward this year.
As learned from Soccer By Ives, the Timbers were in for Mwanga in January, but couldn't make a deal. Perlaza was chased by the Union during the offseason, but Portland won the battle for his rights.
Now both players are on the opposite team and completely out of form. What has happened to Perlaza since storming onto the scene in 2011?
The biggest thing that has happened is his lack of production of goals. He was gotten into good positions but has not been able to score. The runs to open up the defense have been good and when he receives the ball in dangerous areas the ball just seems to stick to his feet and more often then not the shot is either wide or he is dispossessed before the shot even gets off.
What are Perlaza's strengths and weaknesses as a forward? Has he been employed anywhere else other than as a withdrawn striker?
Perlaza is a speedy forward who toes the offside line and forces the oppositions CBs to always account for him. Because the CBs and outside backs have to respect his speed and his runs behind the defense it opens up the middle of the pitch to runs for the other forward or a CAM. His weakness is his touch. There were many times he would get into a dangerous positions only to give away the ball due to a heavy touch.
John Spencer has only used him as a striker in either a 4-4-2 or some variation of that formation.