A couple of weeks ago, I was covering a Sporting Kansas City game for my regular job. As I was leaving the stadium, a fan tweeted at me wondering which players Sporting Kansas City might have to leave unprotected during the offseason's expansion draft.
The comment drew a chuckle from me; it's kind of charming to hear from a fan who is thinking that far ahead. It's a legitimate question as far as most Major League Soccer teams are concerned. With Orlando City and New York FC due to enter the league next year, some MLS squads will face tough decisions in which players they will have to leave exposed for the league's newcomers to consider.
Last year Mwanga fit nicely into the recurring MLS narrative when the Rapids acquired him with a first-round draft pick from the Portland Timbers. "Maybe he could benefit from a new environment" the thinking went. Mwanga struggled since his early success with the Philadelphia Union.
Those difficulties haven't let up in his time with the Rapids. Mwanga played a listless shift in Wednesday night's 0-0 slumber special against the Chicago Fire. Set up in the attacking third with Marlon Hairston, Mwanga turned in an ineffective effort, the type that Rapids fans have come to expect from the lanky Congo native.
In fact, Hairston nicely poked a ball forward in the first half to put Mwanga one-on-one against Chicago keeper Sean Johnson, only to watch Mwanga misfire the ball toward the approaching storm clouds over Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mwanga didn't have a great angle on the goal and might not have had much of a chance if he had fired off a better shot, but it represented the the sort of thing we've seen before out of Mwanga.
It's the type of performance that made me wonder: What does Mwanga add to the Rapids lineup? (Seriously, if you have an idea, please make it known in the comments below.)
This screed isn't a criticism directed at Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni for inserting Mwanga in the lineup. It's understandable that the skipper wanted to rest key players for the upcoming weekend tilt against FC Dallas. But at this point, Mastroeni should have seen enough from Mwanga. If he hasn't, he may borrow a minute on the sideline this weekend to ask Oscar Pareja if he'd extracted better results from the once-promising forward. If Pareja's being honest, one would have to imagine he'd say no.
We're sure Mwanga's a nice guy and everything, but hopefully he finds his touch somewhere else. The more he plays with the Rapids, the more it looks like he won't find it here.