In first start, Hassani Dotson proves to be "outstanding" at left back

The left back position has been a revolving door for Minnesota United FC to start the season.

Francisco Calvo started the season in the spot, but vacated it as he was traded to the Chicago Fire earlier this month. Eric Miller — nominally a right back — filled in for two games before Miguel Ibarra, who played some wingback last season, started in the spot last week against Columbus Crew SC.

On Saturday, head coach Adrian Heath trotted out rookie Hassani Dotson in the position as the 21-year-old earned his first MLS start. Dotson helped the Loons earn another shutout as they beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0.

“I thought for his debut, playing in an unfamiliar position against whoever came down his side, I thought he was outstanding,” Heath said. “The kid did everything that we asked of him. As we said after the game if God willing he stays injury free and listens and learns which we don’t think he won’t, he has a great opportunity because the kid has a feel for the game no matter where you play him. He's got a feel for the game and you can’t give that to people. They’ve either got it or they haven’t and he’s got a feel for the game.”

Goalkeeper Vito Mannone also heaped praise on the Oregon State product, saying Dotson was "fantastic" against the Dynamo.

Dotson's normal position lies in central midfield, and that's where he played in four cameo appearances earlier this season. It's not a complete surprise to see him at fullback, as some experts projected he could end up there in his MLS career given his attributes.

“I was a little nervous, but it helped that I got to play with the team against Hertha [Berlin],” Dotson said. “It’s a little adjustment but it helps I played there in preseason and I also played a couple of stints at left back and right back my freshman year in college.”

The No. 31 overall pick in the 2019 SuperDraft could get another chance to lock down a starting role as Minnesota face Atlanta United on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.


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