When Minnesota United signed John Alvbåge, I was a bit disappointed. A 34-year-old coming off a disappointing season in the Allsvenskan? Really? When I saw him play, I was concerned. I think he moves his feet too much, prioritizing constant positional adjustments over simply being set for the shot. And when he started the year helpless to prevent the worst start in league history it didn’t help his case.
But as we take a break and the Loons mull summer transfers, it’s time I come clean. John Alvbåge is my favorite Minnesota United player. He should be yours, too. And if his loan is cut short this summer (as the team has the option to do), the Loons will lose their affable, enthusiastic Instagram star, and an all-around great seeming person.
I love the veteran Swedish goalkeeper not for his limited exploits on the field, though let’s be clear, he really has gotten a raw deal there. When he started the season it was behind the worst defense in MLS. He then got speared by Jermaine Taylor and Bobby Shuttleworth won his spot while he was injured. The entire reason the opening game against Portland was close in the 80th minute was because Alvbåge made a huge early save. When he came into the game in reserve against Houston, he was very good.
But that’s beside the point. John Alvbåge, the goalkeeper, is just one layer of the person.
Let me take you into the world of his Instagram stories. Here are some of the highlights:
I struggled a bit to make this article as un-stalker-ish as possible. The truth is that early on, I found Alvbåge’s social media hilarious, and started taking snapshots and sharing it internally on FiftyFive.One’s slack chat.
Over time, I’ve realized that there were probably large segments of Loons fans for whom our Swedish backup goalkeeper was an afterthought. As it has become increasingly probable that the remaining year and a half on Alvbåge’s loan may not be renewed by the club (and I can’t blame them if they take that course, this is a business, after all), I’ve wanted to make public my appreciation for a player who hasn’t gotten his due.
To me, what a player does on the field is only part of the story. The quickest way to my heart as a fan of Minnesota is not to play great soccer, but to embrace the community, and the cities and state that I also love. Alvbåge and others, like Jérôme Thiesson have done this, and fans recognize and appreciate this. That Alvbåge spent his time here exploring, sharing, and volunteering to make the cities a better place has been hilarious and delightful to watch.
FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.