TAMPA, Fla. – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC winger Michee Ngalina was on Wednesday named the 2022 USL Championship Young Player of the Year, with the 22-year-old earning the award after a standout second season in Colorado Springs that helped the Switchbacks set club records in wins and points during the regular season. Ngalina subsequently played a key role in the team’s first trip to the Western Conference Final of the USL Championship Playoffs this month.
Ngalina is the second Switchbacks player to earn an individual award in the club’s USL Championship history, following former teammate Hadji Barry’s 2021 Most Valuable Player honor.
A native of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngalina recorded 12 goals and eight assists during the 2022 Championship regular season, with his 20 combined goals and assists the most of any player eligible for the Young Player of the Year award. He also led the league overall with 80 completed dribbles – 15 more than his nearest rival – while recording 43 chances created and 11 big chances created for one of the league’s most entertaining attacks.
“It means a lot to me,” said Ngalina of the award. “But first, to my teammates I want to thank them for helping me out so I can be deserving of it. This success, it is mine, but it’s also the teams. It just means a lot for me and my career. I feel very proud to earn this.”
Ngalina’s move to Colorado Springs after three seasons in the Philadelphia Union organization coincided with a new era for the club under Head Coach Brendan Burke, for whom Ngalina had played in the USL Championship for the Union II, and the Switchbacks’ move into new downtown home Weidner Field. Helping the side reach consecutive postseasons for the first time since its first two seasons in the league in 2015 and 2016, Ngalina has been one of the most exciting elements of the club’s high-flying attack,
In turn, Ngalina has been delighted by the support and energy the club has felt from its growing support, which this season averaged more than 7,100 in attendance during the campaign, a rise of 15 percent from 2021.
“I think it’s the atmosphere that makes it fun,” said Ngalina. “The fans, when they come out to support us like that, they give us all this energy, and they make us want to prove ourselves, and get the win for them, so it definitely adds a lot of energy and fun to the pitch.”
With 35 goals and 21 assists to his name in 104 career USL Championship appearances across the regular season and playoffs, the future for the high-flying winger appears wide open.
Ngalina received 39 percent of the vote to earn the award, while Louisville City FC’s Joshua Wynder took second place with 32 percent and the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Jake LaCava was third on nine percent. Eleven players overall received votes in balloting.
The 2022 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2022 Championship regular season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jordan Farr, San Antonio FC
Defender of the Year: Mitchell Taintor, San Antonio FC
Coach of the Year: Ben Pirmann, Memphis 901 FC
Young Player of the Year: Michee Ngalina, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Most Valuable Player: November 10
2011: Luke Mulholland, Wilmington Hammerheads FC
2012: Jose Cuevas, Charleston Battery
2013: Nate Robinson, Richmond Kickers
2014: John McCarthy, Rochester Rhinos
2015: Kharlton Belmar, Portland Timbers 2
2016: Brandon Allen, New York Red Bulls II
2017: Chris Wehan, Reno 1868 FC
2018: Efrain Alvarez, LA Galaxy II
2019: Cristian Parano, San Antonio FC
2020: Wilson Harris, Sporting Kansas City II
2021: Jonathan Gomez, Louisville City FC
(Note: USL Championship Rookie of the Year, 2011-17)