South Africans in MLS: Player’s Hits and Misses in 2024 US League Season So Far

South Africans in MLS: Player’s Hits and Misses in 2024 US League Season So Far

Jarryd Westerdale
March 21, 2024 at 8:14 AM
In this article:
Bongokuhle Hlongwane logo
B. Hlongwane
Minnesota United FC logoFSouth Africa logo
Cassius Mailula logo
Toronto FC logoFSouth Africa logo
Njabulo Blom logo
N. Blom
St. Louis City SC logoMSouth Africa logo
Katlego Ntsabeleng logo
K. Ntsabeleng
FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas
United States
Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC
United States
Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC
St. Louis City SC logo
St. Louis City SC
United States
  • South Africa has several players in prominent roles at Major League Soccer franchises
  • The 2024 MLS season began on the last weekend of February and is now four games in
  • Bongi Hlongwane and Bradley Carnell have had the most positive returns in MLS so far

A fresh season brings renewed hope and additional expectations.

South Africa's North American adventurers have had a slow start to the season as the players shrug off their AFCON ommissions.

Sports Brief has compiled an update on how Mzansi's finest cross-Atlantic exports have gotten on in the opening weeks of the 2024 MLS season.

Bongi Hlongwane, Katlego Ntsabeleng, Cassius Mailula, Njabulo Blom, Bradley Carnell, FC Dallas, Minnesota United.
Major League Soccer features several South Africans who have spent too much time on the bench in the opening games of the season. Photo: Adam Bettcher and Austin McAfee.
Source: Getty Images

South Africans in MLS

1. Bradley Carnell and Njabulo Blom

The St Louis City SC pair have had an underwhelming start to the franchise's second season. Last season's Western Conference winners are still undefeated, but Carnell has overseen three draws and a win in the first four games.

Unfortunately, Blom has not played a minute yet, after sitting the first four games out through injury. FoxSports reports that the nature of the injury is unknown but that the player is almost ready to return.

The former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder affirmed this, having posted himself on Instagram working hard in training.

2. Olwethu Makhanya

The 19-year-old is still playing for Philadelphia Union's reserves but it is hoped the former Stellenbosch FC man will break into the first team this season.

The club have described Makhanya as an investment, saying they were 'expanding the club's youth-focused lens beyond their academy'. As for Union, they have three draws from their first three matches.

3. Katlego Ntsabeleng

'Tsiki' has fallen down the pecking order somewhat at FC Dallas. He has, however, made two appearances from the bench in losses against Vancouver and New York Red Bulls.

Coach, Nico Estevez, has preferred Canada international Liam Fraser, former Real Sociedad player Asier Illarramendi, or Ecuadorian Patrickson Delgado as starters. Ntsabeleng will have more competition, as FC Dallas just announced the signing of Haitian midfielder, Carl Sainté.

4. Cassius Mailula

Mailula's season has been bleak reading so far. Prince Owusu, Canada international Jonathan Osorio, and Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne have been keeping the Mamelodi Sundowns signing off of the pitch.

Together with former Juventus winger, Federico Bernardeschi, those players hold what coach, John Herdman, calls 'magician-type positions', as replayed by TorontoReds.

Despite that claim, Toronto FC have not set the league alight. Insigne has scored two of the team's three goals as they have ground out two wins, a draw and a defeat in their opening four games.

5. Bongi Hlongwane

By far the standout player from a South African perspective, Hlongwane has helped Minnesota United to the top of the Western Conference after four games.

He did not feature for the Loons in their first two games but bagged two goals as a substitute against Orlando City and LAFC.

If Hlongwane and the rest rediscover some form, they could put themselves in contention for Hugo Broos's squad to face Nigeria in June.

Luis Suarez outshining Lionel Messi

Sports Brief also reported on Luis Suarez eclipsing Lionel Messi as they lead Inter Miami's charge.

The Uruguayan has picked up several accolades which have eluded the Argentine while in the USA.

The 37-year-old scored a brace as Inter Miami beat DC United 3-1 to lead the Eastern Conference.

Jarryd Westerdale photo
Jarryd Westerdale
Jarryd Westerdale (based in Johannesburg) joined Sports Brief after four years in the community journalism sphere. He is a two-time Alet Roux Award winner and was a finalist in multiple categories at the Forum of Community Journalism Excellence Awards.