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(Q&A): Danny Versus Danny

Team captain Danny Califf and rookie Danny Mwanga are both stars of Philadelphia Union—the city’s new Major League Soccer team, now in the midst of its first season. Off the field, they have their own unique style sensibilities and diverse backgrounds; Califf, 30, is a laid-back Southern California native with three young kids, while bachelor Mwanga, 19, is savoring city life in Philly—far from his birthplace in the Congo. They spoke with Editor Karen Gross.

Danny Califf
How does it feel to be the first captain of the new Philadelphia Union?
DANNY CALIFF: In soccer, it’s something that’s usually given to somebody who commands some respect and has some experience and is a guy who’s not afraid to speak his mind, so it’s an honor for me to take on this role.

You’re known for ever-changing hairstyles and your tattoos. Describe your style.
DC: I just do what feels right, really. I like a laid-back beach style. I enjoy surfing, and that whole vibe runs through everything I do. And because I don’t have to get dressed up in a suit every day, I get to experiment. I get bored with hairstyles so I change the hairstyle or I change the color or things like that.

What are you impressions of Philly?
DC:
Philly has all the things a big city has … a great food scene, a great vibe when you go out. But it definitely has a working-class feel, with people who work hard, who play hard and who are passionate— especially about their sports.

What are your favorite places to shop?
DC: I really like the one-off shops, the boutiques, where you’re not going to find the same things in Philly that you find in New York or every city. I’m not a huge shopper at the big chain stores.

Any fave Philly places?
DC: I enjoy people-watching and stuff; when I’m home it’s nice to cruise up to Venice, Calif., and see the different kinds of people. And it’s the same kind of thing when you walk down South Street in Philly. It’s just people doing their own thing, and I enjoy seeing what people are wearing. As for restaurants, I really like the Continental and that vibe. The Continental in Old City [Second and Market sts.] is younger and kind of grittier with the neon lights, and the Continental Mid-Town [1801 Chestnut St.] in Center City has the upstairs bar. It’s a cool place to go and have a drink in the afternoon and just relax.

Danny Mwanga
How does it feel to be a pro at such a young age?
DANNY MWANGA: Just being able to do it right now is a wonderful opportunity.

When did you move to Philly’s Old City neighborhood?
DM:
I moved there in March. My roommate [Amobi Okugo] is another kid on the team who’s also 19. It’s fun. It’s pretty close to everything.

Do you have any places in Old City you like?
DM:
The Continental [Second and Market sts.] is pretty close to us. That’s the place we usually go a lot.

Any impressions of Philadelphia?
DM:
It’s a big city and there are so many things I learned about U.S. history that I didn’t know, since I wasn’t born here.

Have you seen Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell?
DM:
Yes, definitely. And Elfreth’s Alley. And I went and saw the stairs where Rocky was running. Those are cool things I used to watch on TV when I was little and now you’re there; it’s a great feeling.

Describe your style.
DM:
I usually like jeans and a shirt, with Vans or some sneakers. I’m usually not in a suit and all that … I’m kind of casual. During the fall, I like a nice jacket with a hood and jeans and sneakers again. I just love sneakers.

Favorite Philly shops?
DM:
I really like Y-3 [a collaboration between fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas]. Now that I’ve learned there’s a Y-3 store [1616 Walnut St.] that will probably be my favorite.

How did you decide soccer was going to be your career?
DM:
My uncle, Jean-Claude Mwanga, was a professional soccer player in the Congo, so he started to coach me when I was little. I grew up watching him play and I wanted to be like him one day.

The Philadelphia Union play at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Home games this month: Sept. 4 (vs. Kansas City), Sept. 11 (vs. Fire) and Sept. 25 (vs. Chivas USA). For tickets, call 877-21-UNION (877-218-6466) or visit philadelphiaunion.com.

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