Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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Woodbury native Brent Kallman, the younger brother of Minnesota United FC defender Brian Kallman, has officially signed with the team - and he could potentially see action as soon as tonight.
Kallman - Brent Kallman, I mean - finished his career at Creighton University last season. He trained with United during the pre-season, but couldn't officially join the team until he was done with the school year. The scouting report is that he's a larger version of his older brother; Brent, listed at 6'2" and 190 pounds, is noticeably taller than Brian, who is listed at an even six feet.
The younger Kallman could play tonight, as Minnesota is woefully shorthanded in defense. First-choice center backs Kyle Altman (concussion) and Connor Tobin (ankle) are both unavailable. Cristiano Dias and Kevin Friedland filled in there last Saturday, but with two more games this week, Friedland - who hadn't played this season before Saturday, and who is 31 - is unlikely to play all of both games. Midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan filled in at center back for San Antonio last season, but he twisted his ankle Saturday and is also unavailable.
United had planned on bringing Brent in all along, but the situation made it especially important to get him in as soon as possible. Said head coach Manny Lagos, "I believe in finding local talent to develop, and I think Brent has the potential to be a really good pro."
Brian Kallman and fellow fullbacks Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas have all been healthy, so it's plausible that the team could try to slide one in as a center back. The easier solution, however, might be to insert Brent Kallman and see how he does.
No word on what the Kallmans will wear on their jerseys, should they have to play together, though given that the abbreviations would have to be "Bre." and "Bri." it might be just as effective to put their entire names on their jerseys. (And for ease of reference, I might just start referring to them by their jersey numbers.)
Cobbling a team together from the walking wounded
The injury list for United isn't shrinking. As mentioned, Tobin, Altman, and Pitchkolan are all unavailable. So too is Kentaro Takada, who hasn't returned to training with the team yet. Max Griffin is being brought along slowly.
Also a worry is outside midfielder Simone Bracalello, who was dealing with a hamstring problem in the second half last Saturday. He's not on the injury report, but the team will be careful with the guy who's been their best offensive player so far this year. With all the injuries, they can't afford to lose him.
Lagos did mention that Bryan Arguez and Michael Reed will likely play in central midfield tonight, and Pablo Campos is likely to begin the game up front. Apart from that, look for United to try to mix in a few players that haven't seen much playing time - both to get them some experience, and out of sheer necessity.
"We would like to have a deeper roster," said Lagos. "We just don't."
Ticket sales begin at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, just off the U of M St. Paul campus, at 6pm - $10 for adults, $5 for youth. The stands aren't large - gophersports.com lists the venue's capacity as 1,000 - so showing up early may be advisable.
Regarding parking: the University of Minnesota lot that's immediately adjacent to the stadium, just off Fairview Avenue, will be used for operations purposes (EMTs, staff, etc.) However, the Gibbs Farm Museum lot directly south of that University-owned lot will be first-come, first-served free parking for fans.
For overflow parking, the club will be running a shuttle from two lots on the U of M campus: the lot next to the U of M golf course driving range, just off Larpenteur Avenue a short distance west of Cleveland Avenue, and University lot SC101, just south of the "Lawn" area on the St. Paul campus, at the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue. The driving range lot will have a small fee; the Cleveland/Commonwealth lot will be free. Shuttles will run every five minutes.