Despite how his time as a Minnesota United player played out, goalkeeper John Alvbage has no regrets about being a Loon.
The 34-year-old joined United in January on loan from Swedish club IFK Goteborg, but an ill-timed injury cost Alvbage his starting job. And when his loan ran out Sunday, the club declined its option to extend it.
"In my mind, I was, of course, ready to stay. And when I came here, it was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course you're going to get the option, and everything will be great and everything will be perfect,'" Alvbage said. "But then, you know, it's football. Stuff can go really bad and stuff can go really good. But this time, I actually am a little bit unlucky, I have to say that."
Alvbage's signing on Jan. 28 was much-heralded, as the team had yet to sign a goalkeeper despite being about a month from starting its inaugural Major League Soccer season. Just as he was for Goteborg, Alvbage took on the starting position. But he lasted only two matches, 5-1 and 6-1 losses, before an in-match collision with teammate Jermaine Taylor left his knee needing stitches.
Bobby Shuttleworth stepped up in his absence, and Alvbage only played for one half of one other match for the rest of his stint with the Loons.
Alvbage also ended up injuring his thumb in training a few weeks ago and needed surgery. He said he plans to stay in Minnesota, where he has his apartment until a bit into August, and might continue to train and rehab with United, as long as he's not in the way.
"Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I worked as hard as I could," Alvbage said. "And I can really look myself in the mirror after this and say to myself that, 'OK, John, you did your best.' But this time because of injuries and stuff, I couldn't prove myself or show the fans or the league what I can do."
Before he heads back to his native Sweden, where he said he has a contract with Goteborg through 2019, Alvbage and his family, who joined him in June, are taking full advantage of seeing the Minnesota sights. (Read more about the Alvbages here.)
And Alvbage said he wishes the club, owners, players and staff of United all the best. Because while the new team might be struggling for results now, with a new stadium on the horizon, the future looks bright.
"I'm not bitter or sad or anything. It's just, that can happen in sports," Alvbage said. "I have no regrets at all. I'm really happy I took this opportunity.
"I'm happy the club gave me this chance."