If he has played his cards right, Minnesota United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair has guaranteed himself a home-field advantage when he participates in the MLS' All-Star Skills Challenge on Tuesday night at Allianz Field.
St. Clair helped hook up Loons season-ticket holders with 8,000 tickets for Tuesday's All-Star Game eve. That's when both MLS and Liga MX stars compete in five events: shooting, touch, cross and volley, passing and crossbar.
"Any time you can get the fans who have supported you throughout the season an extra benefit, it's good," St. Clair said. "I'm grateful that they continue to support us."
Loons coach Adrian Heath picked St. Clair and star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso as two of his 12 coach's picks for the MLS team's 26-man roster.
All three will play their parts before a home crowd and a shiny stadium in St. Paul.
"Our stadium is definitely one of the best in the league," St. Clair said after the MLS All-Stars' Monday training in Blaine. "With our supporters, the atmosphere is definitely going to be up there. To experience that for the league and have them behind us will make a big difference."
St. Clair and Reynoso are both on MLS' 10-man skills challenge team that will compete against Mexico's Liga MX players in those varying events. St. Clair's mother is coming from Canada to see him compete both nights.
"I think it'll be fun for fans to see a different kind of environment, different kind of skills, something you wouldn't normally see," St. Clair said. "It'll be a little bit like practice. Just have some fun with the event."
Fans, coaches and media voting chose Philadelphia's Andre Blake as one goalkeeper and MLS Commissioner Don Garber picked New York City FC's Sean Johnson as another for the All-Star Game on Wednesday. In between, Heath chose St. Clair, who has been his team's starter since veteran Tyler Miller fell ill just hours before the season's third game.
St. Clair backstopped a recent seven-game unbeaten streak, but he and the team's defense have given up four goals in each of the last two games. Included was Saturday's 4-3 loss at Colorado that succeeded a 4-4 home draw with Portland.
"That's the good thing about our sport," St. Clair said. "There's always more times than not where there's another opportunity and you have to move on, whether it's good or bad."
Wednesday's All-Star Game is a rematch of last year's MLS-Liga MX game in Los Angeles. The MLS All-Stars won on penalty kicks, which is something of St. Clair's specialty given his size and range.
"We'll see what happens," he said. "Hopefully it doesn't get to that. If I'm called up, I'll be ready."
L.A. Galaxy star Chicharito is the MLS team's captain thanks to fan voting on Twitter, meaning he will lead it against his home country on Wednesday.
"It's kind of surreal to be a Mexican player playing in the MLS as captain," he said. "I'm just grateful and very humble…We all can be leaders. We all can give a lot. Many of the players in this league are captains on their own teams. This is just part of the game. I don't need or deserve a special treatment."
Nashville SC and U.S. men's national team member Walker Zimmerman is making his third All-Star appearance and has seen the game's competitiveness grow by bringing Liga MX as an opponent now for two consecutive years.
He also has seen the Tuesday night's All-Star Skill Challenge revamped.
"That brought it to life," Zimmerman said. "It's fun. You get to watch guys score crazy bikes and scissors kicks, which I expect to see from Chicharito here tomorrow. Maybe a little celebration or two, a little shimmy. I don't know what he'll do, but we'll see something from him tomorrow."