Minnesota United FC bounced back with a dominant 2-0 performance over the Houston Dynamo at Allianz Field Saturday evening. With the win, the Loons moved to 7-5-5 on the season, jumped up to 5th in the Western Conference, and continued their stunning run of form that has seen them go 12 matches undefeated in their last 13.
Goals from winger Robin Lod and defender Brent Kallman sealed all three points, but it’s the latter individual’s goal that cannot go unnoticed. Kallman, a Minnesota native and the only remaining player that featured with the club in the NASL before the jump to MLS in 2017, has been filling in for injured captain Michael Boxall while he recovers from a thigh injury.
It’s safe to say that Kallman’s role hasn’t been waved away by Loons gaffer Adrian Heath. After the game on Saturday, he was asked if having a player like Kallman allows you to avoid rushing an important first-team player like Boxall back.
“It does. It does, yeah,” he said. “And, Boxy [Michael Boxall] is not 100 percent at this moment. He’ll probably be a lot closer and maybe available next week. But the way that Brent [Kallman] is playing, you’re not ever going to gamble because we’ve got so much ahead of us and so many games in so many few days that we’re going to need all these guys in. Not risking anybody is really important.”
Kallman scored his second goal of the season for the Loons and has continued to provide the important center back depth the team needs off the bench or in the starting XI when needed. Kallman sees that role as a common thread since joining the Loons in 2013.
“That’s been a theme of mine my entire career,” he said. “Even when you’re not in the team, try to hold yourself to a high standard of training, make sure you’re sharp, so when you get a chance, you can take it, and you can help the team win. So, I’m just really glad I can keep the level high. And we’ve been getting good results, and as long as I’m in the team, I just keep trying to keep it going to help us keep getting points.”
Kallman has now started the past six games for the Loons and made 11 appearances on the season. Minnesota has managed to come away with six clean sheets over 14 matches, all of them with Tyler Miller in net, but four of them have come under the care of Kallman. In those four matches, Kallman started and played 90 minutes in three of them, with the other being a short 1’ cameo in added time (we’ll give him the stat though).
Miller has noticed the trend and praised the play of the defender postgame Saturday.
“[Brent Kallman] has done a tremendous job. He’s really stepped up. [Michael Boxall] obviously is a very valuable player on our team. But [Brent Kallman] has done a tremendous job.”
Kallman’s versatility on both ends of the pitch has been one of the major additions to having him in the team. His two goals this season have come in moments that secured points for the Loons. Although Heath doesn’t think he’s found a proper goalscorer in the defender, those two goals shouldn’t go unnoticed.
“I think that might be stretching it [Kallman being a goal scorer], but, hey, he’s a big boy,” he said. “And if we put really good quality in the box, I always say that Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] overhits some, but he puts so much pace on it, if you can actually get in front of your marker, chances are it’s going to end up in the back of the net. If you remember the game last week, he had a free header in the first 20 minutes, Brent [Kallman]. It’s a great ball in from Rey [Reynoso]; there’s that much pace on it, it takes a lot of people out of the game. So, be on the move. Be aggressive. Attack the ball. Chances are you’ll put things out.”
The aggression, passion and desire from Kallman to continually want to improve on the pitch has helped fill a leadership void that has been absent since Boxall left the pitch injured. With Heath mentioning that there’s a chance that Boxall could be healthy and ready to go come this week, it will be interesting to see if Kallman is moved to the bench or not due to his current form.