Today the club announced the signing of Michael Boxall, a versatile defender from New Zealand. Boxall is expected to immediately join the team.
“Excited to be here, I had heard a lot of positive things about the coaching staff here and that got me excited to join the club,” said Boxall in a club press release. “Being involved in something from the very start and the opportunity to build something special here meant a lot. I’m very excited to get to know my teammates, the coaching staff and all the fans here in Minnesota.”
Boxall has been linked to the club recently, with the Star Tribune’s Meg Ryan landing the definitive headline yesterday that the Kiwi would really join the team.
A lack of defensive depth has been on full display the past few weeks as Minnesota United suffered through the Gold Cup window with Francisco Calvo, Johan Venegas, and Jermaine Taylor on leave to play for their respective countries. Injuries also added an additional burden to the situation.
“We are really pleased to have added a player of his quality. He is a versatile player, can play right back, can play center back,” said MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath in the same press release. “He’s got experience on the international stage with New Zealand and he’s gotten better as he career has progressed. We think he is a player who going to push everybody for a starting role on this team moving forward, we know he is chomping at the bit to get going.”
Boxall brings a wide array of professional experience to the club, including 19 appearances for the Vancouver Whitecaps and 25 caps for the New Zealand men’s national team.
Though Boxall could comfortably slot in at centerback, his natural position is at right back. Additionally, head coach Adrian Heath seems reluctant to make changes to one of the most powerful partnerships on the team in Francisco Calvo and Brent Kallman.
“It’s something that we’ve spoke about, and we could do it in an emergency,” Heath told the Star Tribune. “But I’m a big believer. I think the two center-back partnership is very, very important to any team, and I think that Brent and Calvo have shown a really good understanding, and that’s getting stronger, their understanding now. I’m a little bit loathe to change that and to break it up and suddenly make it two or three changes rather than one. So no, at this moment in time, I see him as a center-back for us.”
Kallman has been an outstanding surprise this year as he staunched the bleeding when our backline was barely alive early in the season. Calvo, for his part, has been an exceptional addition to the team at a time when the club’s international signings are under increased scrutiny following a number of high profile (and high dollar) busts.
Look for Boxall to feature in the starting XI this weekend when MNUFC line up against Liga MX side Atlas FC for a summer friendly. Kickoff is 7:30 pm CT at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.