While not all teammates do, Loons center-back Brent Kallman makes a point of touching the rock every time he walks his way to the locker room. It’s something the Woodbury native takes seriously as he knows the opportunity can be fleeting.
Kallman was one of seven United players who made the jump from the club’s NASL era to its inception in MLS in 2017, and the 30-year-old Minnesotan is the only one still on the roster in 2020. But its place this year as a team has been precarious and provoked by the anger of some supporters.
Last season, Kallman failed a drug test, then admitted to taking a banned substance to help treat a long hip injury that began to affect his knees. “I gave in to the pressure and started to take something,” he admitted in an interview in September 2019. “Now I am paying the consequences.”
His 10-game suspension was carried over to the first five games of 2020, and in his first MLS-eligible game at the Back Tournament in Orlando, Fla. In July, Kallman did not play but drew a lot of Warning.
For a moment of silence, Kallman remained standing as everyone else at Club United knelt in support of Black Lives Matter after George Floyd was killed while being forcibly restrained by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in late May . Standing, Kallman was wearing a T-shirt that read “End Racism”; all other members of the team wore a BLM jersey designed by another MLS player.
For the first time this week, Kallman told Pioneer Press how he researched the issues and struggled with his own thoughts, losing sleep in the process, before making his tough decisions.
“It is certainly not a simple thing,” he said. “There are several layers. ”
One of Kallman’s main blockages was the Black Lives Matter website saying he wanted to “disrupt the West-mandated nuclear family structure requirement.” This page, which went on to say that it seeks to “help each other as extended families and ‘villages’ who collectively care for one another …” has since been deleted.
“This is where I challenged. It wasn’t with the feeling that black lives matter or the statement or stuff, “Kallman said.” I had a problem with the organization (of BLM). I didn’t want to support the organization directly or indirectly by wearing the jersey.
But when Kallman was sent to El Paso Locamotive, a lower tier club in the USL Championship, for what was to be the remainder of the 2020 season, some Loons fans said good riddance without allowing Kallman to leave. explain. Others have demanded answers from Kallman, a player fans have watched since his Blaine days.
Meanwhile, Kallman himself wondered if his time playing for his home state club, which started in 2013, was over.
But Kallman returned to Minnesota and the Loons, making three starts at the center of the season’s final stretch. Kallman, who earned a goal-line clearance against FC Dallas on MLS decision day, helped the Loons extend their unbeaten streak to eight games and win a home game in the playoffs in the MLS Cup for a second consecutive season.
Fourth-seeded Minnesota will face the fifth-seeded Colorado Rapids in a Western Conference quarterfinal game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Allianz Field. The game will air on ESPN; no fans will be attending St. Paul’s due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a really important moment for me,” Kallman said of stepping in when the team needed him. “It’s been one thing in my career. I haven’t been listed as a starter at the start of any season in my career other than 2016.… I’m just trying to train well, be in great shape and, if I’m called up, I’m ready to help the team get points. This is something that I am very proud of. ”
But Kallman’s pride was tarnished when he gave in and took the banned substance. “When I think about it, it’s definitely a stain on me that’s for sure,” he said.
Kallman’s hip injury was diagnosed in 2014, and instead of surgery, the club treated her with physical therapy. The injury would break out multiple times per season, and he’s taken four injections of cortisone and platelet-rich plasma over the years, but that was taken off the table in 2017 so as not to risk his cartilage.
“There was a domino effect,” he says. The right hip injury resulted in problems in the right quad and right knee and then shifted to the left knee over the past season.
“It was a very difficult time,” Kallman said. “I tried to raise my hand and take responsibility for everything, but mentally with these things you’re trying to rationalize yourself and try to make things turn in a positive way. I tried to do this by getting the procedure and rehab all the offseason. This winter of construction by relief corps. I had no problem with my knees or anything like that. I feel like I’m back where I was when I got out of college physically.
With MLS Defenseman of the Year Ike Opara effectively sidelined for the season with an unheard of medical condition, and other center-backs approaching yellow card suspensions, the Loons recalled Kallman from Texas.
While all of the other teammates knelt during the pre-game break before each game of the stretch run, Kallman continued to stand. And after the regular season finale on November 8, Heath was asked if Kallman had spoken to the team about his stance on these social issues.
“He did and I fully support him,” Heath said. “He has his reasons. Brent has spoken to his teammates and he can express himself however he feels. The only thing is we all know he’s a really great guy. He’s a great teammate and he represents something different. So I just think we have to respect that.
“The last time I looked we were in a democratic society where people are free to do whatever they want to do,” Heath continued. “His teammates know what he thinks of them. They know the social issues he’s thinking about, so he does it with our support. ”
Kallman also explained this week why he stood up during the pre-game moments of silence.
“It was a really confusing time for me. I was in a lot of conflict because… part of the rhetoric, anger and vitriol that was launched against law enforcement and generalized against law enforcement, it didn’t suit me ” , did he declare. “A dear friend of mine is a police officer in the Minneapolis area, and there were things I saw in the city, and one thing a few miles from my apartment, roughly spray-painted ( said): Shoot cops there. It was in place for months.… When I saw stuff like that, I didn’t really like it.
“I fully understand and agree that the unwarranted use of force and police brutality are things we have to work on 100%,” Kallman said. “Racism is something that is not acceptable. We shouldn’t be facing this in 2020, but here we are. We must do all we can to root him out of society.
Kallman, however, regrets. As he discussed his decision with his teammates, he did so after showing up before MLS was the tournament’s round of 16 knockout game against Columbus.
Kallman reunited the team the next day for their regeneration session at the hotel pool in Orlando. He stressed that he “100%” supported his teammates who stood up for what they thought was right, and he hoped they could give him the same respect.
“I explained exactly why I was doing what I was doing,” Kallman said. “From there, everything went back to how it was before. Very good relations with all my teammates. Regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation. Everything is back to normal. They were very understanding.