Loons signing young South African attacker Bongokuhle Hlongwane
Hlongwane, 21, will come to the Loons within MLS’ newer Under-22 initiative, and he will be on a longer-term deal, a source told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday.
Minnesota United has agreed to contract terms with young South African attacker Bongokuhle Hlongwane.
Hlongwane, 21, will come to the Loons within MLS’ newer Under-22 initiative, and he will be on a longer-term deal, a source told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday. This addition — the club’s first of this offseason — could be made official Wednesday, and there are believed to be a few other deals in the pipeline.
Hlongwane, whose nickname is believed to be “Bongy,” has played for Maritzburg United in South Africa’s Premier Division for four seasons. He has seven goals and four assists in 3,333 minutes, according to fbref.com. He had two goals and one assist in 1,345 minutes in 16 matches in 2021-22. His goal total has been evenly distributed between his left foot (three); right foot (two) and head (two).
Hlongwane also featured in six matches for the South Africa national team in the qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup and scored the winning goal in a Group G match against Ghana. “I’m happy about the win and I’m sure it will bring hope to the country at large because there has been no hope,” Hlongwane was quoted by Sowetan Live.
Hlongwane had reported interest from other top clubs in South Africa and well as a lower-level German club. The strongest links online have been with the South African champion Mamelodi Sundowns.
Hlongwane, who is listed at 6 foot and 165 pounds, is a player believed to be able to bring power and pace and the versatility to play any of the front three positions. He also fulfills a club goal to influx the roster with younger players.
MNUFC learned of Hlongwane through their scouting network and have sent front-office personnel to see him live as well as watch on video. If Hlongwane needs time to develop before contributing to the first team in MLS, the club’s new second-team MNUFC2 in the MLS NEXT Pro league might be an spot for him to transition to play in the U.S.