MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Official: Minnesota United sign South African international to U22 Initiative deal


UPDATE: Jan. 4, 3:10 pm ETMinnesota United FC have signed South African international forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane via transfer from South African Premier Division side Maritzburg United, the Loons announced Wednesday.

Hlongwane, 21, joins as a U22 Initiative signing and signs through the 2024 season with a one-year club option. He’ll occupy an international spot on Minnesota’s roster.

“The one thing we’ve spoken about is getting someone with game-changing pace on this roster,” MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath said in a release. “He has absolutely explosive pace, but he also looks to combine and build with his teammates. We love his raw talents, but his football IQ is exceptional.

“Ask any defender what scares them and who the hardest players to mark are and inevitably it’s someone with intelligent movement and pace and we feel he possesses both of these qualities. He’s got huge upside; he’s now broken into the South African national team and we’ve spoken to his national team coach and he says it’s only the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come.

“He will be a work in progress for the club, but his physical attributes, his raw talent and football intelligence are impressive. We’re pleased to sign him, we know there was competition to get him and so we are pleased he’s a Loon.”

ORIGINAL: Jan. 4, 1:35 pm ET – Minnesota United FC have acquired forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane from Maritzburg United FC in the South African top flight, a source confirmed to He will be added to Minnesota's roster as a U22 Initiative signing.

Pioneer Press journalist Andy Greder first reported the news.

Hlongwane, 21, has eight caps with the South African national team. The dynamic forward can play through the center or on either wing, plus has eight goals and six assists over 56 professional appearances with Maritzburg.

The forward gives Adrian Heath's side further options in attack behind a likely starting trio of Adrien Hunou, Robin Lod and Franco Fragapane. Hlongwane will be Minnesota's first addition of the offseason. Veteran midfielder Ozzie Alonso headlines the departures thus far, joining Atlanta United via free agency.

Minnesota finished fifth in the Western Conference last season, losing to MLS Cup finalist Portland Timbers in Round One of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.