He was virtually unheard of when the 2020 season kicked off back in February.
But Dayne St. Clair at least was on Canada Soccer’s radar since they selected him in the provisional U23 panel of 50 players, one of five goalkeepers for the pending CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers (he also qualifies for Trinidad & Tobago). Then Covid intervened.
That was all just after Minnesota had loaned St. Clair out to USL Championship side, San Antonio FC, his second loan spell after initially making five appearances for USL affiliate club, Forward Madison.
St. Clair (23) was recalled from San Antonio after Loons #1 ‘keeper Tyler Miller had to go in for hip surgery. Injury then followed to second choice Greg Ranjitsingh, and all of a sudden the young Canadian was thrust into the limelight.
And after Tajon Buchanan’s New England’s defeat at Columbus in the Eastern final, St-Clair has become the last Canadian left in MLS Cup. He’s aiming to become the first Canadian to win the competition since Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts in 2017.
If it’s been a baptism of fire then you wouldn’t really know it. He’s played in each of Minnesota’s last 13 matches, including 2 Play-off encounters, won 6, drawn 5, and lost only 2, with 6 clean sheets along the way. Two of those clean-sheets came in the play-off games, each won by a scoreline of 3-0.
But where has the youngster come from all of a sudden. Well, a bit like the aforementioned, Buchanan, he’s risen through the US college system. In conjunction with playing time for Vaughan Azzuri and K-W United, St. Clair was playing NCAA football with Maryland Terrapins (2015-2018).
With the Terrapins, not only was he part of their successful 2018 national championship run, but he was named NCAA Tournament Defensive MVP, after which he played three PDL games for New York Red Bulls U23’s before eventually being drafted seventh overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by Minnesota.
With the emergence of Thomas Hasal at Vancouver and the already established Maxime Crepeau, Canada now seems to be well-stocked with talented net-minders. James Pantemis has also earned minutes at Montreal Impact in 2020.
Fingers crossed for St. Clair this evening, the lone maple leaf still flying in this year’s MLS Cup. Faced with experienced play-off campaigners, Seattle Sounders, it’s a huge occasion for the young ‘keeper, who’d made only ten professional appearances before making his first Minnesota appearance in a 4-0 success over Real Salt Lake,.
But nothing is impossible in football, as Dayne St. Clair’s 2020 rise to fame clearly illustrates.
Yesterday Minnesota United announced that starting goalkeeper Tyler Miller had undergone successful hip surgery. The surgery will keep him out for the rest of the 2020 season; at the same time the Loons recalled Dayne St. Clair from USL Championship side San Antonio FC.
St. Clair was loaned out to San Antonio FC back in February before the COVID-19 outbreak took the world by storm. DSC was initially loaned out to SAFC for the full season, but just like with the two most recent loans, MNUFC had the right to recall him at any time. The question now comes as two fold.