Minnesota United center back Michael Boxall on Sunday played a club-record 87th career game, part of a strange season in which he is the only player who has played every minute.
He set the record for appearances by playing in an 85th game as a Loon last Saturday at Houston. That number now is 87 and counting after he started Sunday’s home game against Real Salt Lake. He was captain while Ozzie Alonso remained out injured.
Boxall, 32, has played 3½ seasons with the Loons after the New Zealander signed in July 2017, the Loons’ inaugural MLS season. He’s their only player who played all 1,260 minutes this season.
“He has been a great signing for us because for any coach he’s a dream,” coach Adrian Heath said. “He’s low-maintenance, very rarely injured. When he is injured, he makes nothing of it. Trains every day. Great teammate. All the things you need to be a top-class professional. That’s what Michael Boxall is.”
He’s also, according to Heath, underrated.
“Strange thing about Boxy is, surprisingly for a lot of people, he’s one of the best athletes here within the club,” Heath said. “He’s one of the quickest as well. So when you put that all together — and the fact that he’s 6-2, athletic, consistent, a great teammate and great professional on and off the field — I couldn’t be more pleased.
“And it goes to a fitting player who epitomizes everything good about professional football.”
Midfielder Kevin Molino missed his second consecutive game, after he came up clutching his leg late in last Saturday’s game at Houston. Jacori Hayes replaced him in the starting lineup.
Midfielder Jan Gregus returned to the starting 11 on Sunday after he was suspended for Wednesday’s game at Columbus because of a red card received at Houston. Newly acquired defender Bakaye Dibassy came back, too, replacing Jose Aja, who was suspended after picking up a second yellow card Wednesday.
Dibassy suffered a facial cut in the 11th minute after he collided hard with Gregus. He left the game briefly to have it treated.
Designated player Thomas Chacon returned to a substitute’s role Sunday after he started his first game this season for Molino on Wednesday.
Heath said the team won’t decide to loan Chacon back to the Uruguayan club from which he came a year ago or another club until after Molino and veteran Ethan Finlay are fully healthy.
“It wasn’t easy for him,” Heath said about Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew SC. “He obviously has not played in a long time. That has been one of the issues. It’s a real delicate one for us in terms of when do you put people in because you know he’s not going to be incredibly match smart. That situation might change. We’ll address that probably after the weekend.”
• Already a man of many hairstyles and colors, Loons new attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso went all blond for Sunday’s game.
• Real Salt Lake starting striker Corey Baird missed Sunday’s game because he reportedly missed the team’s chartered flight Sunday morning. Douglas Martinez started instead.