Back from the World Cup and a Jamaican vacation, Minnesota United's Dayne St. Clair begins training for his sixth MLS season as the new owner of a condo and the club's No. 1 goalkeeping job.
A year ago, St. Clair didn't claim that job until the regular season's third game. That's when starter Tyler Miller fell ill on gameday at New York Red Bulls and St. Clair grabbed a job that he never let go.
"Well, it's nice to talk to the media in the preseason this year, for sure," St. Clair said slyly.
He's No. 1 from preseason's start now that the Loons didn't exercise a club option to bring Miller back. Miller signed as a free agent with D.C. United and the Loons signed veteran keeper Clint Irwin instead as St. Clair's backup.
"Obviously I'm wishing Ty the best, but I'm happy to have this role here now, to really embrace the No. 1 position," St. Clair said. "I know Clint is very capable and has played many games in the league. Now it's about maintaining my form and taking another leap again."
St. Clair achieved one of his goals last year by playing long enough and well enough to earn a spot on Canada's team that reached the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Canada lost all three group-play games, including to two countries — Morocco and Croatia — that reached the semifinals in Qatar.
"It wasn't like we went there and didn't play well," St. Clair said.
St. Clair didn't play in those three games, but he had a front-row seat to a spectacle that comes to North American hosts Canada, Mexico and the United States in 2026.
"It's just three years now," he said. "It's 2023 already."
Now he knows what to expect.
"It would definitely be helpful," St. Clair said. "That experience, knowing what to expect."
St. Clair will be 29 in 2026 and entering the prime of his career, he hopes as Canada's starting keeper.
"Everything is just amplified," he said about the World Cup experience. "Bigger stadiums. Bigger sponsorships. The fan support, it was nice to see all the Canadians who were able to make it out there and see us play on that stage. Everything you see here at Allianz (Field) it's just amplified times 10."
St. Clair returned home to Toronto for a few days after Canada was eliminated in three games, then came to Minnesota for a few days before he and some friends went to Jamaica for 10 days. He was excused from the start of preseason training this week. On Thursday, he rode a stationary bike while watching teammates training before he joins in.
He's also a new homeowner as well, settled down in a city and with a team where the starter's job is now his.
"You can never fully settle in our profession," St. Clair said. "You can be here today and gone tomorrow. Things happen very quickly in our life. My mind-set is have a better year than last year, just be consistent."
Waiting for Reynoso
Starters Robin Lod and Franco Fragapane joined in training on Thursday while star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and defender Kemar Lawrence remained away for at least one more day.
Reynoso was home in Argentina finishing up immigration paperwork that a team spokesman said is unrelated to his legal issues. Coach Adrian Heath after Thursday's training said he expected both Reynoso and Lawrence — en route from Jamaica — to arrive in the next day or two. The Loons leave Sunday for more than two weeks of training near Orlando, Fla.
Lod had been in California in Reynoso's place representing the Loons in MLS' annual media marketing event.
• Minnesota United will play an international friendly against FC Kaiserslautern from the German Bundesliga's second division June 28 at Allianz Field. It'll be the 12th international friendly the club has hosted. They played home friendlies against English club Everton and Germany's SC Paderborn 07 last summer.