With season at standstill, MNUFC player hopes for strong return

Normally at this time of year, the Minnesota United FC would be on the training field, but players like defender Michael Boxall are forced to train on their own.

“Football is one of those special sports where no matter how much you run or how fit you are, there’s nothing quite like playing the game itself, so we just do the best we can with circumstances we have and just get ready for the day whenever that next game is going to be,” said Boxall.

Major League Soccer suspended play just two weeks into the season. The Loons began the year with a lot of momentum, having won their first two matches. Now all they have is hope - hope that the season will in fact continue and hope that they’ll be able to pick up where they left off.

“Obviously, when you start the season as we did with our front four, five players banging in bunches of goals, it just gets you excited for the next one and unfortunately that’s going to have to wait,” he said. “I have no idea how long.”

When he’s not training, Boxall is spending his days running after his three-year-old daughter. With COVID-19 being a global pandemic, he’s also keeping tabs on his family in New Zealand.

“They’re shutting down the borders, everyone is going into isolation as well, so I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that isn’t affected by this,” said Boxall.

The Loons were supposed to open their home schedule on March 15, but that date has come and gone without any soccer taking place. For now, all is quiet Allianz Field, but Boxall remains confident that when the Loons return to action, the fans will be there to remind them what a home field advantage Allianz can truly be.

“It’s hard to imagine right now, but I think it will be something on par with, like the home opener last year, just that built up energy times five, times ten,” he said. “I don’t know. it’s going to be nuts. I know a lot of the fans can’t wait for it and we as players certainly, yeah, I wish we had an end date that we could count down to, but whenever it is, we’ll be ready.”

In recent days, Major League Soccer announced it has suspended its season until May 10, but that date could change in the future as the pandemic remains fluid.