COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Kassey Kallman has a bit of a dilemma.
After the defender for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit finishes her own preseason match Saturday, she’ll have to figure out which side to root for when Minnesota United FC takes on the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
According to her brother Brent Kallman, a United defender, the decision should be pretty easy.
“She’ll be rooting for me,” the older brother said.
Colorado defender Eric Miller, Kassey Kallman’s boyfriend of eight years to the day Saturday, wasn’t so sure it was that simple.
“I tried to convince her that she should cheer for the Rapids,” Miller said. “She’s super loyal to her family, so we’ll see. She’ll probably tell both of us that she’s cheering for both of us.”
So it’s a good thing soccer allows for draws.
“I’m trying to stay neutral,” said Kassey Kallman, 24. “I kind of want a tie because you’re both defenders, so 0-0, and you both have a solid game. … That would be great.”
The three professional players all went to high school at Woodbury, where Miller, 24, played for two years on the boys’ soccer team with Brent Kallman, 26. Brent Kallman drove the then-freshman Miller to practice. When the two became friends and Miller started coming over to the Kallman house to hang out, that led to Kassey Kallman and Miller eventually dating.
Brent Kallman and Miller also played together for two seasons in college at Creighton. But Saturday will mark the first time they’ve lined up against each other.
“I’ve followed his career with an interest ever since he joined MLS,” Brent Kallman said. “He’s the one [fellow Minnesotan in the league] I know the best, and I’m the closest with, so it’ll be fun. It’ll be the first time I really played against somebody I’m that familiar with in the pro game.”
Kassey Kallman knows how both her boyfriend and brother play and said they are very different. Her brother is the classic center back, a physical enforcer. Her boyfriend is more technical and likes to be a playmaker going forward as a right back.
Defense will be a focus for both teams this match, as United’s historically terrible start in MLS has seen the team concede 11 goals in two matches. Brent Kallman, who has yet to play this season, could see some minutes if United coach Adrian Heath decides to switch up the personnel on the back line.
As for Colorado, where Miller is a starter, the team conceded the fewest goals last season, averaging less than one a match. But Miller did score an own goal in last week’s 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls.
Having family — or almost family, in Miller’s case — also playing professionally provides a great support system, Miller said.
“I had Brent to kind of look up to when I was younger, and he helped me so much when I was in high school and even at Creighton when I first got there,” Miller said. “He was great. … He’s always been kind of like a big brother for me, even before I started dating Kassey.”
Kassey Kallman, then, can’t really go wrong in choosing her allegiance. Well, unless she starts taking into account the long-term benefits.
“I know you get bonuses for winning, and we’re going to have a joint bank account, probably, at some point, so maybe I’ll push for [Miller] a little bit,” Kallman said. “But no, I’m just excited to sit back and watch.”
Four United starters will miss the March 25 trip to the New England Revolution because of national team duties. Midfielder Johan Venegas and defender Francisco Calvo have been called up to the Costa Rican national team for World Cup qualifiers on March 24 and 28. Midfielder Rasmus Schuller was called up to the Finnish national team for matches on the same days. Midfielder Kevin Molino confirmed Friday he would leave for Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday for its World Cup qualifiers. This is Molino’s first call-up since an October incident led to his dismissal from national team camp.