Takeaways: Burke describes his reaction to Michee Ngalina signing with Philadelphia Union, effects on team

QUOTE SHEET

Bethlehem Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke joined media again for his weekly conference call ahead of his squad’s match against Atlanta United 2 this weekend. With the recent signing of Michee Ngalina by Philadelphia Union, Burke discussed his reactions to seeing one of his players signed by the first team midseason.

“Joy, just pure joy,” said Steel Head Coach Brendan Burke. “I think anyone that’s been around that kid would react the same way. Soccer aside, he’s just a unique, happy individual who kind of brightens your day and you look forward to seeing him when you see him. When you add the potential for what his soccer career could be into that, you’re just happy have worked with him. That’s my opinion of Michee; I don’t think I could speak more highly of someone.”

Motivation by Michee

Michee Ngalina’s signing was one of the first Steel-to-Union signings to happen in the middle of the season. With his signing and the addition of Brenden Aaronson to the Union roster last year, the path to the pros is clearly open throughout the Philadelphia Union organization. Burke was asked by media if the signings provided extra motivation for his squad to turn in solid efforts.

“For sure. We saw some eyes go wide open when we announced it to our group a couple weeks ago that Michee would be moving through to the first team and the immediate recognition that ‘wow, this is tangible. This could happen to me at any time if I hit a good run of form, show consistency at this level and excel at this level and then I’ll get a fair look.’ It’s another positive step forward for the project to have a guy pulled through at this point in the season, because it reasserts our want to do so as an organization and also the urgency with which we have to work in training every day. You never know when you’re going to catch someone’s eye,” stated Burke.

Jamaican distribution

Defender Jamoi Topey made his return from injury in the match against Loudoun United FC last Friday. With the 6’5” man in the center on the backline, he’ll now look to continue his development. Topey started in the Steel’s first two matches of the season, before picking up an injury in his first senior-national team cap for Jamaica in late March.

“Obviously he brings physical presence, which he still has to assert more, but I think there were a few moments where he could have asserted himself more in the Loudoun [United FC] game. He clearly brings that, he’s a threat on set pieces, he helps us deal with things in our own box, but I think his best quality is a rare one for a guy that size; he can really pass,” Burke responded when asked what Jamoi Topey brings to the squad. “You look at his assist to Michee [Ngalina], that broke three lines and he meant it, that’s not a hopeful forward pass. I think the way he can open the game for us from his position is a unique talent for a center back that big. I’m hopeful that we can help him close the gap in other areas of his game, because he has a ton of tools. He just really has to start to communicate more and assert himself more on the game because I don’t think he even knows what he has.”

Bethlehem Steel FC hosts Atlanta United 2 at Talen Energy on Sunday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Tickets are available here, with the match available on ESPN+.

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