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United takes goalie, fullback teammates high in MLS SuperDraft

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United selected goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair with the seventh overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Friday, Jan. 11, in Chicago. The addition of the University of Maryland and Canadian youth national team player fills a position of need for the Loons.

The Loons then traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money to Chicago for the 15th pick, where they took left fullback Chase Gasper, who was teammates and roommates with St. Clair at Maryland.

Gasper said neither he nor St. Clair imagined they would be MLS teammates.

“In the system like the draft, you never know where you’re going to go, so we’re just all hoping to be picked up,” Gasper said. “To be going to the same club and going with not only a great teammate, but a great friend is truly a dream come true.”

St. Clair, 21, and Gasper, 22, come for the rich tradition at the University of Maryland, where both played every minute during the Terrapins’ playoff run to the 2018 NCAA championship in December. St. Clair, a 6-foot-3 redshirt junior from Pickering, Ontario, and Gasper, a 6-foot senior from Alexandria, Va., were part of a defense that did not give up a goal in the final 500 minutes of the season, including the NCAA tournament.

“This is something that I had in mind when I chose to go to the University of Maryland,” St. Clair said of being drafted. “It was always the plan. I didn’t know when. This was always the plan, so to actually come and do it now is just pure ecstasy.”

St. Clair is a Generation Adidas player, meaning his salary doesn’t count against the club’s budget. United’s two previous top picks, Abu Danladi (first overall in 2017) and Mason Toye (seventh in 2018), were also Generation Adidas players.

St. Clair was considered the best goalkeeper in the draft, while MLSsoccer.com’s Bobby Warshaw called Gasper “the most pro-ready outside back of everybody getting drafted.”

The Terrapins’ tradition is now headlined by Zack Steffen, the top U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper. St. Clair and Steffen have trained together in College Park, Md., and St. Clair has gleaned some tips from Steffen, who is headed from the Columbus Crew in MLS to Manchester City in the English Premier League.

“One, his athleticism and (next) his humbleness and his professional mind-set,” St. Clair said of what he learned from Steffen. “It’s his willingness to work that stood out to me.”

St. Clair is the second goalkeeper on United’s roster, behind current starter Bobby Shuttleworth; the Loons let go of backups Matt Lampson and Alex Kapp in the offseason.

St. Clair considers himself a “modern” keeper who is comfortable distributing the ball with his feet.

St. Clair has played for the Canadian youth national teams from the under-16 level upward. He was on the roster for the CONCACAF U20 championships in Costa Rica in 2017 and said he is now in the pool of players for the U23 team.

After transferring from UCLA before his junior year, Gasper played in 14 games in the 2018 season and was sidelined for three weeks of his senior season by a broken vertebra in his back.

The Loons selected midfielder Hassani Dotson from Oregon State with the 31st overall pick. They also had two fourth-round selections (75th and 94th) for Monday’s conclusion of the draft; Minnesota could decide to “pass” on those last-round picks.

The first six picks Friday were: UCLA midfielder Frankie Amaya to FC Cincinnati, Virginia Commonwealth midfielder Siad Haji to San Jose, Florida International forward Santiago Patino to Orlando City, Charlotte defender Callum Montgomery to FC Dallas, Denver forward Andre Shinyashiki to Colorado, and Indiana midfielder Griffen Dorsey to Toronto FC.