Brent Kallman can polarize Loons’ fanbase, but Woodbury native produced in massive moment
Defender is the team's longest tenured player, dating back to the NASL era
ST. PAUL — Brent Kallman’s goal celebration Tuesday can be broken down into three acts.
Act I: After his header put Minnesota United up 1-0 on Los Angeles FC, the center back walked toward the sidelines, arms outstretched but his face blank.
Act II: Kallman got a chest bump by Luis Amarilla and was in the middle of a group of teammates, including corner kick provider Emanuel Reynoso and fellow center back Michael Boxall. He got added high fives from Mender Garcia and Kervin Arriaga.
Act III: Before the restart at midfield, Kallman went over to the Loons’ family section to give loving gestures toward his 10-month-old son Briggs.
The displays in Acts II and III were traditional. “It was good. I had my son there,” Kallman said postgame. “It was cool. I feel like I am playing for more than just myself now.”
The action in Act I was an oddity, especially in a crucial game for MLS Cup Playoffs seeding — and especially for a defender unaccustomed to getting on the scoresheet. So, what was up with that seriousness?
“I think people have a lot to say when it comes to me,” Kallman said before pausing. “So, I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Kallman wants his play to do the talking, and he will get another chance at that when the Loons look to further solidify their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a game at Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Woodbury native is the Loons’ longest-tenured player, with a homespun career dating to the club’s NASL era. But with that status and connection, the 31-year-old doesn’t enjoy a full embrace from his community, which often boosts and protects those considered “one of us.”
With Kallman, it’s more complicated. His outspoken conservative political views, shared after the death of George Floyd in 2020, were met with resistance by the vocal liberal contingent in the MNUFC fanbase.
Then after starting center back Bakaye Dibassy was lost with a season-ending injury in late August, there were doubts Kallman was capable of stepping up. He had dutifully waited in the wings for most of the season but had started and contributed to the Loons’ 2-1-2 start in February and March. Was that forgotten?
Political differences and questions about his performance perhaps have been intertwined.
While the club had limited roster mechanisms to use toward adding another center back before the roster freeze deadline in early September, United manager Adrian Heath repeatedly voiced support that Kallman could step up for the stretch run.
The Loons had a rocky stretch post-Dibassy with a pair of 3-0 losses to Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, but have been incrementally better since, in a 1-0 loss to Portland and the 1-1 draw with first-place LAFC on Tuesday. Kallman and Boxall had shares of responsibility for the goal conceded in Oregon, but the breakdown against L.A. went primarily to a stretched midfield and specifically to Arriaga.
“From a personal standpoint, I’ve felt better every game that I’ve been playing in,” Kallman said. “I feel like my fitness and my form is better. I’m seeing the pictures and taking up better positions.”
Some fans’ views of Kallman will remain dissenting, but there sure was a lot of cheering in Allianz Field when he scored on Tuesday.
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