Bethlehem Steel FC winger Michee Ngalina is reportedly set to sign a first team contract with the Philadelphia Union.
The 18-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a Bethlehem Steel FC contract last April after spending time with the first team during their preseason camp in Clearwater, Florida.
The soccer program’s Twitter account at Montverde Academy, the private Florida boarding school Ngalina attended prior to joining the Steel, tweeted on Thursday evening that the winger “will sign with the 1st team of Philadelphia Union of MLS.”
Update: the tweet has been removed. Here’s a screenshot.
Ngalina had seven goals in 23 games in his first season with Steel FC in 2018. He was able via short-term loan deals allowed for U.S. Open Cup games and international friendlies to play for the first team last summer in an Open Cup game against the Richmond Kickers and against Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly at Talen Energy Stadium.
He’s been training with the first team since camp opened at the University of Pennsylvania last week and appeared in the Union’s 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls in their first preseason scrimmage on Wednesday.
If he is in fact signing a first team contract, Ngalina would fill the eighth and final international roster spot on the first team roster as things currently stand and increase the total roster to 25 players. Green cards could change that number prior to the start of the season in March. Loans to Steel give the Union flexibility to have more than the allotted eight international players on the first team roster.
It’s also possible that this report is premature and that Ngalina won’t make the jump until after the USL Championship season has started.
Ngalina signing a first team deal would create another spot to fill with a USL contract. The team currently has eight of the 12 required roster spots filled to meet roster compliance rules.
A separate report from Thursday indicated that 21-year-old Jamaican central midfielder Chavany “Pebbles” Willis will be going on a year-long loan to Steel FC from Portmore United.