The MNUFC news is starting to pick up now. Yesterday, MNUFC fans got not one but two stories to chew on, like a sign of spring: finally, things are happening.

The first story is that Brent Kallman is coming back for two more years as a Loon, according to Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press. You have to say that this is one of those deals that just makes sense for everyone.

MNUFC declined Kallman’s contract option in December, but the rumors were always that he would be back. Kallman is from Woodbury, a scion of one of the great Minnesota soccer families, and he’s been a Loon since 2013, the first season that the team was the Loons. He’s an Original Loon!

Because he’s been around for ten years, I still fall into the trap of thinking of him as a young breakout candidate, but of course he’s 31 years old now and an MLS veteran. He played both left center back and right center back last year, and once, memorably, in the center of a back three; he played well enough in mid-season, when he started eight consecutive games, that even when Michael Boxall was healthy there was some question from Adrian Heath as to whether he’d keep picking Kallman.

The Loons need that kind of depth. This is especially true since Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy are even older than Kallman; counting on the two starting center backs to play 35+ games next year is not realistic. Kallman is an imporant piece, in my mind.

He also scored two goals last season, tying him with Hassani Dotson and Ramón Ábila. That’s more than Fanendo Adi, Juan Agudelo, and Ján Greguš scored, put together. Brent Kallman: backup striker?

I am more of a parochial thinker than I should be, but Kallman - just by staying on the roster - provides a link to both local soccer, and to the history of Minnesota United (pre-2017 division), and those are two things I find important. It’s him, Manny Lagos, and Amos Magee. May Kallman sign for ten more years.

The second story is that MNUFC’s annual international friendly next summer will be against SC Paderborn 07, who are currently in the 2. Bundesliga. If tradition holds, they will be in a different league by the time they reach St. Paul. You have to admire this kind of commitment to excitement:

  • 2013-14: Promoted to Bundesliga
  • 2014-15: Relegated to 2. Bundesliga
  • 2015-16: Relegated to 3. Liga
  • 2016-17: Should have been relegated to amateur Regionalliga, except that 1860 Munich lost its pro license and went down instead
  • 2017-18: Promoted to 2. Bundesliga
  • 2018-19: Promoted to Bundesliga
  • 2019-20: Relegated to 2. Bundesliga
  • 2020-21: Extremely boring ninth-place finish

Right now, Paderborn is back in ninth place, except they are still just three points out of third place. This is boring, so I will tell you that in the past ten years, Paderborn has had four different coaches named either Stephan, Stefan, or Steffen.

This is the kind of stuff they don’t put in the season ticket advertisements.

Finally, my thanks to Mthokozisi Dube on Twitter, who cleared up the “what is Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s nickname” debate: It’s “Sanisa” or “Saniza,” given to him by youth coaches in Pietermaritzburg.

This reminded me of former Loons loanee Siniša Ubiparipović, who played seven games for Minnesota on loan in 2013, and whose greatest contribution in a United jersey was this game against Edmonton, when he came on as a sub at the hour mark and got himself sent off a minute later.

This is the kind of stuff they don’t put in advertisements, either.