Michee Ngalina has spent most of this season training with the first team, but the 19-year-old Bethlehem Steel FC star’s movement from the USL Championship team to the Philadelphia Union is now official.
Ngalina has scored 10 goals over the past two seasons for the Steel and will likely continue to get minutes in the USL Championship, but the first team contract makes him eligible to play in MLS games. He’s featured previously in a friendly, in an Open Cup game and in preseason for the Union.
“I feel so happy to sign my MLS contract,” Ngalina said on Wednesday. “I want to thank the Union staff to give me the opportunity to show what I can do.”
Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngalina signed a Steel contract last April after spending time at Montverde Academy in Florida.
Sporting Director Ernst Tanner told reporters after training on Wednesday that the Ngalina deal was an important part of the decision to trade David Accam to Columbus Crew in exchange for an international spot and $500,000 in allocation money.
“Michee showed already not only in training but also in games with Steel that he can really be an asset for us,” Tanner said.
Head coach Jim Curtin gave Ngalina a high compliment when he called him the team’s most dangerous one v one player “outside of Ilsinho.”
“He has taken a next step I think with the Steel now where you’re seeing all the flash and the sizzle added to goals, which is important,” Curtin said. “He can go by anybody at the first team level or at the Steel level or even when he plays against younger guys his own age.”
Ngalina will occupy an international roster spot, giving the Union 10 for nine spots with Cory Burke unavailable because of Visa issues.