When he finished his Division I soccer career at Creighton University in 2013, Woodbury native Brent Kallman didn’t receive any offers to play for Major League Soccer teams. But he didn’t quit playing the game he loves, spending four seasons with the Minnesota Loons of the second-tier North American Soccer League.
Kallman’s persistence paid off this season when he became the first Minnesotan on the roster of the new Minnesota United FC team of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference. He’s one of 11 U.S. natives on the roster.
Kallman comes from a soccer family, one of six siblings who played varsity at Woodbury High School (WHS). His older brother, Brian, went on to play college soccer and spent 10 years with the Minnesota Thunder, Stars and then Minnesota United, retiring after the 2015 season. Brent’s younger sister, Kassey, is a defender for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League.
As a 10- and 11-year-old, Kallman remembers enjoying the thrill of scoring goals. Now, his primary job is defending. “As I got older, my skill set translated well to playing midfield through college,” he says. “It became pretty clear that defense is my best strength.” The ability to “read” the flow of the game is one of the traits that make a good defender, he says. “Also, I’m strong in the air, good at ‘heading’ the ball.”
Kallman credits his high school, college and summer league coaches with helping him along the way. “All my coaches at Woodbury were really good coaches, and at Minnesota Thunder Academy” where he played “select” youth soccer. Kallman says that while he enjoyed playing soccer through high school, he “didn’t really fall in love with the game” until college, when he began watching English premiere league matches on cable TV. “Before that, I wasn’t really aware of that culture.”
As the sport has grown in popularity, so have player salaries. The minimum salary has “jumped up a lot, from $35,000 to $65,000 now, so players can support themselves” without other employment. “The salaries need to keep getting better,” he says.
Joe Quintavalle, boys soccer coach at WHS for 25 years, coached all of the Kallman boys. “His sisters are great players, too; the whole family is all about soccer,” Quintavalle says. “They’re all hard workers, that’s their m.o. [modus operandi]. They came to play every day in practice and played hard. They have the blue collar mentality, plus they have talent.”
Looking beyond 2017, Kallman hopes to continue playing the game he loves as long as he can, then possibly give coaching a try. “Center backs can usually play a little longer than other positions,” he says. “Hopefully, I have nine or 10 seasons left.”
Minnesota United FC Remaining 2017 home games
(all games at TCF Bank Stadium):
August 5: 7 p.m. Seattle Sounders FC
September 9: 7 p.m., Philadelphia Union
September 23: 7 p.m., FC Dallas
October 7: 7 p.m. Sporting Kansas City