How Does Danny Mwanga Fit in with the Portland Timbers?

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union strikes the ball while Andre Hainault #31 of the Houston Dynamo defends in the second leg of the playoffs on November 3, 2011 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Dynamo won 1 to 0 and will play the Sporting K.C. Sunday, November 6, 2011. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

It's an interesting question and one that many people have been asking since the trade was announced a few days ago. Fact is that, despite the Portland Timbers being full up on strikers, we'll almost definitely see Danny Mwanga play a huge role in the team from this moment on. But just how will he fit it? How does his style match up with that of the current Timbers squad? I don't have all the answers, but let's take a look at how he's played in the past with the Philadelphia Union and his own thoughts on his style of game.

Yesterday, our own William Conwell posted his usual training report only, this time, with 100% more Danny Mwanga than there is usually. In one such quote on his style of play here is what he had to say about himself:

I am not a target striker, I am the guy who plays underneath the striker, trying to run at the back line. For the last few games of this season I thought I was more used as a target striker which is not my fault, it is something that I was still trying to learn.

Additionally, based on his highlight videos, from what I can tell his own assessment rings true. He's not going to be a striker that will sit in front of the goal, muscle it out with defenders and and the shot, head it in, or get a quick flick to put it in the back of the net like Kris Boyd. Which is fine because we already have a Kris Boyd, now we need somebody who will balance Boyd's style of play with precision striking, or feeding the ball into Boyd when he absolutely needs them.

All in all, really I would place Mwanga in the same category of striker as Darlington Nagbe. While Nagbe hasn't set the season on fire with goals, we've seen what he can do and they're remarkably similar to Mwanga. Nagbe is also not one of those players who will muscle around too much. He uses speed and precision to score his goals.

So how does this all play out when the season kicks off again next weekend? Let's break it down:

Obviously with Mwanga in the line up, Nagbe is no longer needed as a striker. Let's be honest, he wasn't working out there anyways. That might be tough for him to hear, but the truth is that he plays better as a CAM than an all out striker. So hopefully we see him permanently placed in the spot where Nagbe can help guide the ball rather than scoring out right. Not that the latter won't happen regardless.

That leaves the #2 striker position for Mwanga. Yes, the Timbers have Mike Fucito, Brent Richards, and Sebastian Rincon on the docket as well, but I think it's a given that Mwanga will start above them. Mwanga will play as a withdrawn striker. Again, don't expect to see him sitting up top with Boyd. Think of him as a younger Perlaza, but one who has a record of taking shots.

Here's my predicted line up going forward, not including injuries, of course:

Timbersformationmwanga_medium
Nothing radically different, but I think this will work if the Timbers really want to score goals.

Bottom line, however, the Timbers absolutely did not trade for Mwanga only to have him sit on the bench. This is a player head coach John Spencer plans on using and I can't see any other outcome from this trade than that line up right there.

What do you think? How will Danny fit in with this squad?
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