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Breaking: Union sign forward Michee Ngalina from Bethlehem Steel

Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel

Philadelphia Union announced the signing of forward Michee Ngalina from USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel this afternoon.

The move was made just a few after forward David Accam was traded to Columbus Crew SC, with the 19-year old likely to replace the departed Ghanaian’s minutes.

“Outside of Ilsinho, 1v1 he’s our most dangerous guy,” Union manager Jim Curtin told the assembled media following his weekly press conference at Talen Energy Stadium. “He’s taken the next step with the Steel where all the flash and sizzle add up to goals.”

To be exact, Ngalina has recorded three goals and one assist in seven appearances this season with the Steel. Including last season, he’s totaled 10 goals and three assists in 31 USL appearances.

Internationally, the Democratic Republic of Congo native has represented his country at the U17 level. For the Union, he will occupy an international spot upon receipt of his P1 visa.

“We are proud to reward Michee’s hard work with Bethlehem with this first-team contract,” said Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner of the signing. “He has shown well in training alongside the first team, and he has earned the right to formally take the next step.”

Curtin, and the rest of the Union’s roster, are familiar with Ngalina. He’s trained with the first team so far this season. With the arrival of Tanner and shift in formation, the player has also undergone a transformation.

“Michee has naturally been a winger for a lot of his career.” Curtin continued, “He’s really embraced being the second forward where you actually have more freedom to go inside and come underneath.”

Just like Accam, Ngalina could be used as a late substitute or deployed as a winger when the coach switches to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite the experience level of the two players, business certainly plays a role.

Accam’s salary was the second highest listed total on the Union at $1.25 million. That’s a lot to pay for a player primarily coming off the bench. Ngalina will cost a fraction of that, with those late-game minutes being used to develop a teenage prospect rather than an established MLS veteran.

“There are also guys, if we put the time and effort in, can reward us,” said Curtin on the financial side. “They’re cap friendly players that can have a lot of bang for your buck, for sure. Michee fits that.”

Ngalina plays the game with a certain youthful enthusiasm. Joy reverberates from the kid, and it was no different after the signing.

“I feel so happy to sign my MLS contract,” Ngalina told reporters. He continued, and discussed his positive on-field energy. “When I smile, I feel more power in me.”

With a bright future, Ngalina might have a whole stadium smiling with him someday soon.

One Comment

  1. Peanut Gallery says:

    “When I smile, I feel more power in me.”
    May he smile often and repeatedly, especially after scoring goals. 🙂
    Welcome to the first team, Michee!

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