As media members gathered around Minnesota United’s captain for his postgame locker room scrum after another bad loss that highlighted some of his mistakes, Francisco Calvo scrolled through Twitter on his phone before showing it to the club’s public relations director.
He pointed to a specific Twitter handle and asked for anyone from that outlet to be removed from his interview because he wouldn’t speak to them. United didn’t actually have to follow through with that, as no one from there appeared to be covering the game, and Calvo dutifully answered all the media’s questions.
But it’s pretty clear that the center back is fed up with the negativity on social media, especially after the Loons’ 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 19,721. The loss dropped United to 4-7-0 while San Jose, the bottom-dweller of the Western conference, improved to 2-5-2, with the team’s only other three points this season also against the Loons, in the season opener.
“We need to be together now as a group, as a team, because it’s a big chance, I’m sorry for what I want to say, but it’s a big chance for the media to talk bad things about the team now,” Calvo said. “But we have to be together as a team. This is the only chance. We need to be more stronger than anyone.”
The Loons started the game in maybe the worst fashion, when left back Jerome Thiesson conceded a second-minute penalty kick by tripping up San Jose midfielder Magnus Eriksson in the box. Eriksson then beat United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for the lead.
Loons coach Adrian Heath said despite that merited early penalty, he thought his team, especially the attackers, played really well for the last 35 minutes of the half. That peaked in the 26th minute when striker Christian Ramirez, coming off a two-game hiatus because of a hamstring injury, took advantage of a turnover to fling the ball from the top corner of the box over the head of goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell and into the net.
But Calvo, who has seemed to make costly mistakes in multiple games this season, was caught on a fluky play in the 69th minute defending San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski in the box. When the pair neared the end line, Calvo moved out of the way of Wondolowski’s cross, assumingly to not concede a corner kick. But the ball found Danny Hoesen, who beat fellow United center back Michael Boxall for the goal.
The game only deteriorated from there for Minnesota. Calvo blocked a Hoesen shot with his hand in the box, and after a video review, Wondolowski scored the team’s second penalty, in the 76th minute.
Heath said he wasn’t sure what Calvo was supposed to do differently on that penalty and said the second goal was just two failed clearances. The coach refused to put the blame on just Calvo or even his defenders as a group, but he did say it’s obvious the team is allowing too many goals.
“I don’t want to talk about individuals at this moment in time. I want to see the video back and go over it again, and we’ll determine what we thought the problems were,” Heath said. “All I know is the opposition today have not had to work extremely hard for their goals.”
Calvo has owned up to his mistakes in the past, but he was visibly annoyed to have the attention on him again. At least the Loons and their impassioned captain have an extra day to prepare for league-leading Sporting Kansas City next Sunday.
“It’s hard, you know, when you’re pointing at one guy,” Calvo said. “If you want to point to me, point to me. I’ve been playing as a pro eight years, so I know what this pressure is. So if you want to say Calvo is doing mistakes, Calvo is not doing well, you can say whatever you want. But we are 11 on the field, all right? So if you want to talk, talk about the team. Don’t talk about me or any of my teammates.”