Fresh off his stint in Russia for the Confederations Cup, Michael Boxall is set to become a Loon.
The New Zealand national team defender is expected to finalize his contract with Minnesota United and become the second addition to the team during this secondary transfer window, a source close to the club confirmed Tuesday.
Boxall, 28, started all three of New Zealand’s matches in last month’s Confederations Cup appearance. He most recently played more than 50 matches with SuperSport United F.C. in South Africa and one back-to-back Nedbank Cups, South Africa’s version of the U.S. Open Cup. The club posted to its Facebook this past Thursday that the team and player had parted ways after negotiations for a long-term deal didn’t come to fruition.
“We had an option on Michael’s contract which we did not want to exercise unconditionally,” SuperSport United CEO Stanley Matthews said in the post. “We offered him an amended option, which he has declined, a decision which we respect.”
Previously, Boxall spent time in Major League Soccer with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2011-12, where he overlapped for a time with United goalkeeping coach Marius Rovde. He also played for UC Santa Barbara in the States from 2007-10.
The 6-2, 200-pounder plays center-back, a position with which United has struggled with personnel issues lately. In the most recent match July 4, just one center-back in backup Joe Greenspan could play since team captain Francisco Calvo and backup Jermaine Taylor were away on national team duty and fellow starter Brent Kallman and backup Vadim Demidov were injured.
While United coach Adrian Heath has said he wouldn’t trade Calvo, his left-sided center-back, for anyone in the league, the captain has played left-back before, which is another position United might need help with. Starter Marc Burch is out for several more weeks after bilateral sports hernia surgery.
“It’s something that we’ve spoke about, and we could do it in an emergency,” Heath said in June. “But I’m a big believer. I think the two center-back partnership is very, very important to any team, and I think that Brent and Calvo have shown a really good understanding, and that’s getting stronger, their understanding now. I’m a little bit loathe to change that and to break it up and suddenly make it two or three changes rather than one. So no, at this moment in time, I see him as a center-back for us.”
But Heath also said it was a “possibility,” should the team make some relevant additions in this transfer window.