The Charlotte Independence announced the signing of Ugandan defender Henry Kalungi, the former Winthrop soccer standout, on Thursday.
"We are very happy to have Henry join the club,” said Independence General Manager Tom Engstrom. “He is a high quality player with a great work ethic and great character. He is a great fit for what we are trying to build.”
Kalungi has been sidelined since August 2014, when he tore his ACL and MCL as a member of USL side Richmond Kickers. The injury came following a collision during the club’s international friendly against Crystal Palace on July 28, 2014. He had been training with the Independence intermittently over the past months while returning from the injury.
Prior to his ACL tear, Kalungi appeared in 135 games over six seasons with the Kickers, logging nearly 12,000 minutes while contributing to 58 shutouts. The center back anchored one of the league’s best defensive units en route to the 2009 USL Second Division Championship, 2010 USL Second Division Finals, 2011 US Open Cup Semifinals and the 2013 USL PRO Regular Season Championship title. Kalungi originally was drafted in the fourth round (53rd overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids.
A native of Uganda, Kalungi moved to the United States in 2006 to attend school and play soccer at Winthrop. He made 56 appearances for the Eagles, was named team MVP in 2006 and received Big South All-Tournament and NSCAA/adidas All-South Atlantic Region accolades. While in college, Kalungi also played with the Hampton Roads Piranhas and Fredericksburg Gunners in the USL Premier Development League.
Since 2011, Kalungi has captained the Ugandan Men’s National Team, earning 15 international caps. He also was a member of the country’s under-20 squad in previous years. Kalungi joins Rock Hill products Alex and Enzo Martinez on the Independence’s roster.
The Charlotte Independence return to USL action on Saturday, July 4, welcoming fellow expansion side Saint Louis FC to Ramblewood Soccer Complex. Charlotte is 2-1-2 in its last six matches and currently sits just three points out of a playoff spot.