Tonight's U.S. Open Cup match between the Loons and Houston is not on TV. But you can watch a webcast starting at 7:30 by clicking here.
Brent Kallman couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause, but he was especially amped for Minnesota United’s U.S. Open Cup victory against F.C. Cincinnati two weeks ago that sent the Loons to the tournament’s round of 16 for the first time.
Well, when one walks away from a scored penalty kick in the decisive shootout with the iconic Conor McGregor strut, clearly that’s a confident guy.
“I’m always, like, fired up, but for some reason, there was a little extra for me in that game,” Kallman said. “I don’t know if it was the tournament style, win and go on, lose, and you’re done situation, but I just felt like I had a lot of fire that game, and I really, really wanted to win.”
United will look to look to snowball that passion into its next matchup Monday at the Houston Dynamo. The winner will face defending champion Sporting Kansas City, which knocked the Loons out in their first game of the tournament last season.
Last year’s 4-0 drubbing, compared to a hard-fought penalty-kick victory a year later in the tournament that pits all levels of U.S. Soccer against each other, is quite the turnaround, but United coach Adrian Heath said the importance of this secondary tournament alongside Major League Soccer play has never escaped him.
“Competitions, for me, have always been really important because I know what it can do for a club. It can galvanize football clubs,” Heath said. “You look at what’s happened to a lot of teams that have won the Open Cup, it’s been a springboard for them to move on to bigger and better things.”
And this year, Heath said the timing has set United up for success. Both games so far have come with significant time after or before to recover or prepare. And that means that for this Houston match, Heath is expected two pretty full-strength lineups.
With team captain Francisco Calvo away at the World Cup, Kallman likely will start again in his stead. And he said since many MLS teams use the Open Cup as a chance to rotate their squads, he views this tournament as an opportunity to make a statement and show the coaches he should play more — as well as a chance at a trophy.
“I have yet to make a deep run with any of our teams in the past,” Kallman said. “So I would like to make a deep run just to see what it feels like and to try to make it all the way.”
United starts league play again Saturday at Colorado. Juggling the two responsibilities is just a part of the job.
“It’s simple, in that way,” midfielder Rasmus Schuller said. “We have two competitions that we’re in, and they’re both very important. So it’s a big game for us.”