Known by the Loons fanbase as “DSC,” Dayne St. Clair has had a rollercoaster of a 2022 campaign as a professional footballer so far. From backup to starter, from absentee to on the list: St. Clair is out to prove his doubters wrong while securing first-team football for the foreseeable future.
The 24-year-old was not called into the January training camp for the Canadian men’s national team because he wasn’t projected to be the Loons starting goalkeeper going into 2022. That projection was accurate, as Tyler Miller began the season as the Loons No.1 in net following a 2021 campaign where he was the regular starter.
However, Miller fell ill after week two of the MLS season and was unable to play in week three on the road against the New York Red Bulls.
In steps St. Clair.
A Man-of-the-match performance from St. Clair, making eight saves and stepping up BIG to deny Red Bulls forward Patryk Klimala from the penalty spot saw him make the MLS Team of the week and earn MLS Player of the week in his 2022 debut. Following the incredible showing, a call-up to the Canadian Men’s national team and a boost of confidence from Loons manager Adrian Heath had him flying.
“Football can change so quickly. Dayne has been so frustrated, you know, angry at me… angry at everybody because he can’t play. Then, Tyler gets ill and he [St. Clair] has the game like he did against New York Red Bulls… it can change so quickly,” Heath said.
Every day has indeed been a chance to impress, as his week three performance made waves across the league. His brilliance earned him a call-up with the Canadian Men’s National team where he saw his side take first place in Concacaf World Cup qualifying and book a trip to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“I think for Dayne, the most important thing is to concentrate on each game as it comes and to not look too far ahead,” Heath said. “They [Canada] have had an unbelievable year, so, touch wood and keep your fingers crossed he goes to the World Cup – which I think would be huge for him in terms of growth as a professional and as a goalkeeper.”
For St. Clair, it’s a moment he will never forget. The opportunity arose, and he took it – without looking back. Champagne bottles were popped, celebrations ensued and Canada qualified for their first FIFA World Cup since 1986.
“I’m just proud. I think anytime you get a chance to represent your country, especially knowing that we had a very good chance to qualify for the World Cup while being with my brothers… just proud and relieved,” St. Clair said. “All the hard work you know, behind the scenes and not being there for a few camps and just getting my name and foot back in the door. It was definitely a really big personal accomplishment.”
The ambition, the work and the determination behind the scenes have all built up to this moment. A starting opportunity at the club level and consideration for a goalkeeper position on Canada’s roster for the World Cup.
DSC knows that one slip-up could be costly. Heath said he’s spoken with him about how his current form could lead him towards club success and a ticket on the plane to Qatar. However, Heath added that he made sure that St. Clair knows how easy it is for that plan to fall apart.
“I feel a little for Tyler, because Tyler lost his place because he was ill,” Heath said. “I know that if Dayne drops a little bit, then we’ll put Tyler back in – and he knows that. So he’s just got to concentrate on playing really well for us, and if he does that, he’ll keep his place in the Canadian National Team.”
Heath has belief that St. Clair can be the goalkeeper both teams need, but said that it all rests in his hands now (literally).
St. Clair has an opportunity of a lifetime ahead of him. Now, it’s all about seeing his name on the team sheet in the starting position and on a ticket to Qatar.
“Talking to the national team, the most important thing with me is playing but along with playing is performing well, as well. So I think just every opportunity that I get is a chance to play is a chance to show what I can do to edge my name into that final roster.”