Motivated Mwanga ready to step in and contribute

Forward could make Rapids debut Saturday against former team, Union

As happens to many players when they first learn they've been traded, Danny Mwanga didn't know what to think immediately after being told he was traded from his hometown Portland Timbers to the Colorado Rapids last week. But it didn't take long for his uncertainty to turn into excitement.

"Obviously there was some mixed feeling about it, but at the same time when I heard that Colorado called for me, I was very excited," Mwanga told ColoradoRapids.com after training on Wednesday. "I talked to the coach, and technical director, and they told me they think highly of me. They were very excited to have me here."

The trade happened two days before the season opener. The Rapids had arranged for Mwanga to fly from Portland to Colorado to begin settling in while the team was in Texas to play FC Dallas. But Mwanga had a different idea.

"I think at that point I was really motivated," he said of his conversation with Oscar Pareja and Paul Bravo. "I wanted to come in and meet the guys and be part of the team right away. I'm looking forward to stepping on the field as soon as I can and contributing."

Mwanga instead joined the team in Dallas prior to match against FCD, then flew with his new teammates to Colorado. Now he's preparing to make his Rapids debut, ideally on Saturday against the team that drafted him with the top pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, the Philadelphia Union (4 p.m., BUY TICKETS).

"It's going to be big, it's going to be huge," Mwanga said of possibly facing his former team for the first time since they traded him to Portland last summer. "I was a part of that team and I know some of the guys on that team, so it can be an advantage. But at the same time they can try to make it hard for me. I'm ready for it. Once they come here I'll be looking forward to stepping in and hopefully I'll be on the side winning the game."

The Rapids are undefeated in five all-time meeting against Philadelphia. However, two of those results were 1-1 draws. Mwanga was the one who scored the game-tying goal for the Union in both draws against the Rapids.

"Now I'm on the other side," Mwanga said, smiling. "Hopefully I'm going to be able to turn that around. Either way I'm very excited to come in to this team. I'm really looking forward to a wonderful season with the Colorado Rapids."

Mwanga, who wore #10 at Philadelphia and Portland, will wear #55 - which add up to ten - with Colorado. Injured midfielder Martin Rivero currently wears #10 for the Rapids.