Minnesota United FC added to their goalkeeping corps on Friday, selecting Dayne St. Clair with the seventh overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. The 21 year old was a standout player as a redshirt junior at Maryland, winning the 2018 College Cup for the Terps. As a Generation adidas player, St. Clair won’t count against Minnesota’s salary cap and will fill a supplemental roster slot alongside fellow Loon first rounders Abu Danladi and Mason Toye.
The Pickering, Ontario native was a consensus top-10 selection in most draft boards, namely after signing a GA deal and having MLS rule him as a domestic player for roster purposes. In 23 games for Maryland last year, St. Clair led the country in minutes played by a goalkeeper, with the 11th best goals against average (0.66) in Division I. Recruited as the heir apparent to Zack Steffen in UM’s historically world-beating pipeline of goalkeepers, St. Clair closed out the season by not allowing a single goal in over 500 minutes, including the College Cup playoffs.
The move was not much of a shock given head coach Adrian Heath’s comments to The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter this morning. When asked what positions the team was looking to use the pick on, Heath replied, “Anything behind the ball... If the right player is available, we’ll take a defender.” While not entirely a defender, St. Clair was widely seen as the best netminder in the SuperDraft. SBNation’s own mock draft had Toronto FC taking the hometown player at #6 in the draft, which was perhaps lower than other expectations. With him slipping to #7, Minnesota took a timeout to assess the situation, ultimately taking St. Clair.
St. Clair was noted coming through the draft process as being a solid net-minder with the ability to dictate play with the ball at his feet, but had a couple of notable gaffes in his games at the MLS Combine. Minnesota, however, must have been convinced by his college career, and should likely look to St. Clair as a modern goalkeeper in the same stylistic mold of Manchester City’s Ederson, someone looking to play the ball and assert himself higher up the field. It’s likely that his first taste of professional soccer will be for USL affiliate Forward Madison FC.