Minnesota United second-year goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair started his 10th game this season Saturday at FC Cincinnati. That's two more than veteran Tyler Miller, who started the first eight games in all competitions before hip surgery ended his season.
Given his chance, St. Clair earned four clean sheets, a 3-2-4 record and coach Adrian Heath's trust in the nine games leading to Saturday's.
The Loons invested $200,000 in allocation money and signed Miller to a new contract after they acquired him from LAFC last winter to replace Vito Mannone. They used the seventh overall pick in the 2019 SuperDraft to select St. Clair out of NCAA champion Maryland.
Where will that leave the Loons in goal when Miller recovers and the 2021 season comes?
"A lot of that will revolve around Tyler and how quickly or slowly he comes back," Heath said. "He's well on his way with his rehabilitation. We'll address that when it comes around."
The Loons loaned St. Clair at season's start to San Antonio in USL Championship so he could play games and recalled him to back up veteran Greg Ranjitsingh for three games before he assumed the starting job with Miller sidelined.
"I'm very pleased where Dane has gone," Heath said. "He has not missed when he has come in. He made big saves when we needed him, saved things he should save. We think we've got a really good goalkeeper, and he has set himself up for the next few years. We know whatever happens, we hope Tyler comes back firing on all cylinders. Then we have a decision to make with Dayne.
"Is Dayne going to be the No. 1?" Heath asked. "Is he going to be the No. 2 and what do we do with him next year to keep this progression going? We don't need to take him out of the firing line and not play again. That's a decision that will be made in the offseason."
Alonso, Gregus return
Midfield partners Ozzie Alonso and Jan Gregus returned to the starting 11 on Saturday.
It was Alonso's first start since he injured his hamstring Sept. 6 vs. Real Salt Lake. Gregus was back after he missed only two games because of two Loons games postponed while he was away playing for his Slovakia national team.
Playmaking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and defender Jose Aja — the two Loons whose positive COVID tests postponed a game at Dallas — were in Saturday's 18, both as available substitute after additional testing was negative.
Let it snow
Last week's snow moved the Loons' training indoors at their Blaine facility, in October already. And that's all right with veteran striker Kei Kamara, who has played in New England, Colorado and Columbus among other places.
"The snow has been great," he said. "I want to be out there, throwing snowballs. People keep complaining it's cold. I'm still waiting for the actual Minnesota cold to hit. It's good. It's a different environment."