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Loons turn to Brent Kallman in wake of Bakaye Dibassy’s season-ending injury

Kallman will be elevated to a starting center back spot for Minnesota United’s stretch run toward the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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Minnesota United defender Brent Kallman (14) defends Seattle's Will Bruin (17) in the first half of a MLS game on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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This is Brent Kallman’s moment.

With Bakaye Dibassy out for the season with ruptured quadricep tendon in his right leg, Kallman will be elevated to a starting center back spot for Minnesota United’s stretch run toward the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The club confirmed the severity of Dibassy’s leg muscle injury in the 2-1 victory over Houston on Saturday and Loons manager Adrian Heath said Kallman will be given every opportunity to rekindle chemistry with Michael Boxall in the middle of Minnesota’s defense.

MNUFC does not plan to add a free-agent signing before the MLS roster freeze on Friday, according to Heath. “We have (roster flexibility), but we will go with what we’ve got,” he said Monday. “BK has waited patiently for his go.”

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Kallman is expected to assume a starting role when the third-place Loons (13-9-4) play sixth-place Real Salt Lake (10-8-9) at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

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Kallman, a 31-year-old Woodbury, Minn. native, has started eight games this season but only twice since mid-May. Kallman is the longest-tenured Loons player with 100 appearances in MLS since 2017, and he’s ready to again reward the belief Heath is showing in him.

“I think that is some trust that I’ve earned from him over the years,” Kallman said. “I’ve played a lot of games for him in a lot of different circumstances. Teams that were not so good and teams that have been heavily rotated and then times when I’ve got a run of games on teams that were really good, that were contenders. I just think that is some trust I’ve earned from him and have showed him over the years. I’ll do my best to repay it.”

This year’s Loons side is a contender, with strong defending a reason they would host a home playoff game if it started today. They have allowed 37 goals in 27 games, which is sixth-fewest in the 13-team Western Conference.

Kallman acknowledged he will need some time to build up his form and fitness levels. He subbed in for Dibassy early in Saturday’s game and Minnesota had a defensive breakdown on Corey Baird’s opening goal, but MNUFC scored two late goals for the victory.

“I’m not putting a ton of pressure on myself because I know as I get a little run of games that I will find my form and fitness will come up,” Kallman said Monday.

Even with Kallman stepping up, Minnesota could use a depth piece considering they are young and inexperienced at that spot or would be calling on a player to play out of their primary position.

Center back Nabi Kibunguchy has played two MLS games this season, but both have been in midfield. Center back Callum Montgomery hasn’t played for the first team this season and was out Saturday with a thigh injury. Heath also mentioned regular central midfielder Kervin Arriaga as a possible replacement, if need be.

Dibassy’s isn’t the only injury to a starter on the Loons’ back line. Left back Kemar Lawrence is nursing a knee strain and is not expected to play against RSL. D.J. Taylor filled in against Houston. Lawrence might be available to play Saturday against FC Dallas in St. Paul.

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