Denne St. Clair stands tall despite Minnesota’s early season struggles

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Dene St. Clair of Minnesota United FC during the first half of the match on April 16, 2021 against Seattle Sounders FC in Seattle, Wash. At Lumen Field.

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More prolific teammates, including a pair of Argentine standouts and nephews of the Liberian president, try to find the net again and again on Saturday and, after failing, it seemed only fitting that Deine St. Clair also played his shot.

Although the young Canadian goalkeeper’s frustrating effort in the waning minutes was blocked and Austin was unable to stop FC FC 1-0, it provided a timely sum for Minnesota United’s stuttering start to the new Major League Soccer season.

Played three games, and for the first time in the young franchise’s short history, three defeats, with only one goal.

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It is far from a breakout 2020 season for the 23-year-old Pickering, Ontarras, who backstop the Lons within touch distance of their first appearance in the MLS Cup. Before the Seattle Sounders exploded for three goals in the final 15 minutes of the Western Conference Finals, that would go down as one of the greatest games in MLS history.

Some young goalkeepers may feel chased off that loss, and the resulting hangover may well occur next season. But almost none of Minnesota’s seven goals this season can be attributed to St. Clair’s mistake – Lones head coach Adrian Heath said Friday that the team left him to dry on some of them Was.

St. Clair said he took the heartbreaking loss last season as an opportunity to do even better, comparing it to the disappointing season he had in his sophomore year at the University of Maryland. The following year the team retaliated to win the NCAA Championship.

“I think sometimes wins and stuff can cover some things,” he said on Friday. “So I think when you bring a smack to the face, little by little you have to take another second to look at yourself in the mirror and have this kind of idea, where can I improve?”

On paper, there is not a whole lot that St. Clair could improve upon. The Canadian keeper started the final 16 games of the season for the Lons last year, the regular season and the playoffs, had eight clean sheets and scored just 15 goals.

So scoring seven goals in the first three games of the season will not change the way they work. He is simply going to roll up his sleeves and get back into the victory column is essential on a daily basis.

“He’s a very quiet character,” says Minnesota goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr. “He is a determined, but he has got an old head on young shoulders. He is not very tall when he is high, he does not fall short even when he is high. Not only in sports, but in life He has also got a very good perspective on things.

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His goal this year may have been somewhat goalless on average, but it remains impeccable on the penalty kick. While nearly everything became pear-shaped in the opening rematch of the Lions ‘4–0 season with Seattle last month, St. Clair denied Sounders’ Mark Raoul Ruidiaz by chance. They now face three penalties against high-paid designated players from South America – and none have yet to win, with two saves and a weak crossbar for it. The race to success put him one away from the MLS record of four for a career start.

Kerr, who is no stranger to penalty success himself, once saved a spot kick from Paul Gascoigne while playing in an Old Firm game for Celtic, saying that St. Clair’s calmness under pressure was a key to his success. Is part of. And when he says that the two will go on tape of the opposition’s penalty taker before a game, he never wants his goalkeeper to turn in the moment with a predetermined plan.

St. Clair consents, and both agree that staying as long as possible does not benefit the penalty taker. After all, at 6-foot-3, St. Clair does not look any younger than what the shooters get from him.

“I think a lot of people are watching the pills now and waiting for them to make the first move, so I just try to keep my ground as long as possible,” he says. “I think they get closer to the ball without me. I feel like I’m taking a little bit bigger, that’s the way I portrayed it.”

His early career success went unnoticed either by the national team hierarchy. He was scheduled to be part of the under-23 team that went to the original Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico last year, which was erased by COVID-19.

But when this year’s rescheduled tournament rolled in, his performance over a 12-month span meant campaigning for John Verdemann’s Canada team for the World Cup qualifier pair in March.

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While he is yet to make his senior debut, it was a thrill to just be around the likes of Alfonso Davis and Kyle Larin, as well as friends Alastair Johnson and Kamal Miller – both of whom played alongside Warner, who grew up with St.War Happened.

But it was the presence of a stalwart from the Canadian national team that really surrounded the moment.

“Seeing some people like Atiba [Hutchinson] St. Clair said she has been wearing shirts for a long time and added the event in a very cool way.

While Canada’s starting goalkeeper Milan Borjan is on the hill more than 33 away, behind him is his No. 2 and a fascinating fight to be the eventual successor. Goalkeeper Maxim Crepo, both of St. Clair and 26-year-old Vancouver Whitsec, is currently competing for that spot with one eye on the 2026 World Cup to be held jointly in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Kerr, who feels the national-team call-up could improve a player between 5 and 10 percent, says the fight between the two will only be to St. Clair’s advantage.

“By all accounts, [Crepeau’s] A very tough trainer, he works really hard and I think it’s really good for Dayten because Dayen is probably more naturally talented, but he can’t be dull in the training department, “says Kerr Huh.

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Not that St. Clair would possibly entertain it. Much discussion of the World Cup helped him bring back the day-to-day conversation of Minnesota United. After Saturday’s loss, the task of turning the season around became a bit daunting, but St. Clair, keeping it in perspective, indicated that this year, with the usual 34-game on tap, in contrast to the epidemic’s short campaign a year earlier , There is plenty of time to set things right.

“I think it’s still very early on the season, and this year with the long season or the regular season, of course these games are important, but they don’t weigh that much, when we only had 15 or 20 games,” he said.

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