Hassani Dotson "coming into his own" with United States U-23s at Olympic qualifiers

Hassani Dotson - US under-23s - all smiles

If there’s one thing Hassani Dotson has shown during his first two Minnesota United FC seasons, it’s that he’s one of the most versatile players in MLS.

While defensive-minded in some respects, the Oregon State product has chipped in five goals and one assist across 42 matches. He’s scored several long-range blasts, popping up with howitzers that unknowing observers might not expect from someone Loons’ head coach Adrian Heath sometimes deploys at right back.

But his hues of final-third potential were glaring for the United States Under-23s on Sunday night, as Dotson scored two goals off the bench in a 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic, helping his team earn a vital three Group A points at the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

Dotson twice deposited set-ups from CF Montréal midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, substitutes that helped shake off a drab first half, leading to some praise from U-23s boss Jason Kreis.

“For me, Hassani is a player that's coming into his own,” Kreis said. “He showed us in January how hungry he was and how he was capable of so many different things as a central midfield player. He showed up to this camp probably fitter than everybody else. 

“He's worked extremely hard, he's had assists and goals in almost every single training session. So it's really nice to see a player who is coming, I think, in a really good moment and is hungry to help lead this team and push this team forward. Couldn't be more pleased for the kid.”

Dotson first got off the mark in the 73rd minute, collecting a Mihailovic pass and lashing home for a 2-0 lead. He then added another in the 78th minute, collecting a pass from the former Chicago Fire FC homegrown by opening his hips and slotting into the far corner.

The five-minute span emphasized that Dotson’s more than an industrious midfielder, even if the No. 31 overall pick in 2019 SuperDraft was business-like postgame.

“Very excited that I could execute the plans that he had given us,” Dotson said on FOX Soccer. “I think the whole team put in a good shift and I was the one [who was] able to score the goals. It's a team performance and I'm just very excited to score my first goals of the tournament.”

Dotson started in the US’s opening 1-0 win over Costa Rica, then was subject to the six squad changes Kreis made for their second game in four days. Now, they look ahead to a big Group A match against hosts Mexico on Wednesday (9:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN), with the winner likely to earn first place.

Following the final whistle, the US were in prime position to earn a semifinal spot. The two finalists make the Tokyo Summer Olympics, a quadrennial tournament that the US last reached in 2008.

“We're just focusing each game at a time,” Dotson, 23, said. “Now we celebrate for a little bit and the next one is Mexico. That's all we focus on and hopefully we can continue this momentum and qualify for the Olympics.”