With hip surgery in August forcing Minnesota United goalkeeper Tyler Miller out of the remainder of the 2020 MLS season, the Loons recalled unproven 23-year-old Dayne St. Clair from his loan to USL Championship side San Antonio FC.
The seventh overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, got off to a strong debut, making three saves in a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake on September 6. Minnesota's 3-2 win over FC Dallas on September 9, though, led to a four game winless stretch before a 2-0 victory at Allianz Field over FC Cincinnati on Saturday evening.
Saturday's win made it back-to-back shutouts for St. Clair, who stopped all three shots he faced against FC Cincy.
"I think he's one of the best young, if not the best, goalkeepers in MLS if he keeps improving, keeps listening to people who have been doing this for a long time," head coach Adrian Heath said. "He has a very bright future. At no stage were we worried about bringing him in. I know one or two people were thinking did we need another goalkeeper, but all along I thought he was going to be good enough, and he's proving that."
St. Clair's 2020 highlights
One of St. Clair's saves proved to be a crucial one to keep Minnesota in front. In the 57th minute, Cincinnati striker Jurgen Locadia found himself on the end of a header in the box, but the Canadian made a point-blank save to maintain what was then a 1-0 lead. Twelve minutes later, Kevin Molino's goal sealed the hosts' first win in nearly a month.
"I've said it a million times, goals change games, and Dayne's come up with [some] great saves when we needed him to," Heath said.
Beyond St. Clair's second clean sheet in as many games, it's the development of his vocal leadership that has impressed teammates.
"I actually [told] him that he's gotta kick our butts a little bit and scream at us when we're not doing the right things in front of him," said Kei Kamara, whose 12th-minute penalty and 130th career MLS goal opened the scoring. "That's one of the big things that I think when he does that, he starts becoming a leader."
"He has a strong presence behind you," said defender Chase Gasper, the Loons' other 1st-round pick from last year. "Loud voice, amazing shot-stopping capabilities. It's just a great goalkeeper to have behind you...he's done an incredible job at filling in at that position."