Michael Boxall found out he would be captaining Minnesota United starting this week the usual way: while he was getting a haircut.
Coach Adrian Heath had let slip to the media Friday that Boxall was his top choice to take the armband from Francisco Calvo, who left for the World Cup early Sunday after United’s 2-0 shutout of the Montreal Impact on Saturday night. And apparently, Boxall’s coiffeur was more up to date with the Loons’ headlines than the player himself.
“I mean, my barber told me yesterday, so that was when I found out [Friday] night,” Boxall said after Saturday’s game. “Honestly, it means a lot that Adrian thinks that highly of me. And to be honest, I think it’s just going to be up to more than just me stepping up to replace Calvo’s leadership. I think we’ve got plenty of that. Ibson, Rasmus [Schuller], they’re big leaders in the middle for us. And then Darwin [Quintero’s] a big character, too. So I think all over the park, we’ve got more than enough.”
Boxall, a center back, said he will have to thank his national team coach with New Zealand for putting captaincy on his professional résumé for the first time this past March, so at least he has some experience with the job.
Heath, though, didn’t need to review any paperwork, as he has seen with his own eyes how Boxall leads by example. Boxall has been one of the most quietly consistent players this year on a defense that has been widely criticized since before he even joined the team in July 2017.
“In terms of his personality, maybe a little bit, because he is one of those senior guys. But in terms of the way he’s playing, he can’t do an awful lot more,” Heath said of how Boxall can take on this bigger role. “He’s not one of them who screams and shouts. He’s more about his actions. And, you know, I think he’ll be really pleased, the fact that he’ll lead the team out next week. And we’ll see how he does. But he’s been terrific since he’s been here.”
Boxall said as far as that vocal leadership, he’s prepared to have to chirp up a bit more ahead of next Sunday night’s game at Sporting Kansas City. But he is also not afraid to lean on some of his teammates who are naturally loud, like outside back Eric Miller.
And if that fails, he’s given himself a bit of homework that should ease the way, too.
“I’ll probably have to watch Al Pacino’s speech in ‘Any Given Sunday,’ ” Boxall said, “and practice in front of the mirror a couple times.”
• Calvo will train for a week in his home country before playing a farewell game Sunday vs. Northern Ireland. Costa Rica will go to England and Belgium for games June 7 and 11 before the team starts the World Cup June 17 in Russia. Calvo could miss as few as three Loons games, or seven or more.
• Rookie center back Wyatt Omsberg went back on loan to the United Soccer League’s Tulsa Roughnecks on Saturday and played a full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with the OKC Energy, including making a goal-line clearance. He or Brent Kallman is likely to replace Calvo on the back line.