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There is something that every MLS player works towards. Countless hours training and honing their skills to hopefully one day perform at an elite level on the field and land amongst the stars. This year, when those MLS All-Stars take to the pitch at Allianz Field to face the best LIGA MX has to offer, two of Minnesota United’s own will be in toe: midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. Both players have traveled a long road to get to the highest of heights in MLS, pushing through every twist and turn to get themselves here.

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Dayne:

Dayne St. Clair has been a name to take note of amongst fans and press boxes throughout the season. Whether it was a sigh of relief from the Minnesota faithful, or grunt of frustration from an opponent, St. Clair has had so many jaw-dropping saves, it’s no wonder he landed himself a spot on the All-Star roster.

St. Clair started this season on the sidelines. Yes, you read that right. The name we’ve all come to know and thank repeatedly did not begin this season with the number one slot on the starting line-up. Picture this: it’s game three of the season, the incumbent starting goalkeeper Tyler Miller is out for the game, and you are called upon to step up in a match against the New York Red Bulls – a team that is no slouch. St. Clair saw this challenge as his opportunity to show what he could do, and boy, did he ever make the most of that opportunity.

“I think a lot of people didn’t expect it from me,” said St. Clair. “I knew that I was capable of that kind of performance, and to get the recognition of Player of the Week … definitely not easy for a goalie. So to get that, I feel like that’s what kind of kickstarted everything.”

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If his goal was to give a selection headache for Heath, then he certainly succeeded. St. Clair was a force that day – or maybe used The Force – with a clean sheet game that would make anyone question if his last name was actually Skywalker. Eight saves and a stuffed penalty kick on his first starting game of the season — oh my stars. He came out of the gate swinging, essentially forcing his way into the starting XI, and now we all get to watch his ever-commanding presence in the box each week.

That Red Bulls match got the ball rolling for St. Clair (no pun intended) as he continued his onslaught of borderline disrespectful saves. After winning his starting spot, he wasn’t going to give it up. Currently, St. Clair is third in the league in goals added, essentially meaning he’s saved so many “unsavable” shots that he’s added points. He is also tied for third in the league with overall saves of 67.

With a performance like this, you’d think a player was aiming specifically for a spot on the All-Star team, but St. Clair is focused on the bigger picture. “I think [of this as] a kind of stepping stone,” said St. Clair. “I think, of course, you want to be one of the top players in the league for sure, but I wasn’t thinking All-Star; I was more so focused on team success, winning the trophy … I think, of course, an accomplishment like this is definitely an honor, but going into this season I was just focusing on playing and getting back to the level I was at in 2020, so definitely a crazy turnaround of a season for me for sure, but always something that I knew I was capable of at the same time.”

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As an added sweetener, St. Clair’s best friend, CF Montréal defender Kamal Miller is also an All-Star this year. “When I heard Kamal Miller was on the team, I was really happy because me and him are best friends, I mean we’ve been playing together since we were 15 — actually probably before that. Definitely to see my best friend and all of the things we did when we were back in Canada, to see us take our own pathways and reconnect now on the national team and All-Star, I was almost happier to see him on that list than for myself, to be honest.”

That’s not to say St. Clair isn’t looking forward to the match. However, once again his reasonings expand upon what most people would expect. “I think it’s good for the city, for a lot of these players that don’t come here to see it for something else,” St. Clair said. “It’s a celebration for the league and for the fans and things like that. Getting to play with guys you would probably never play with, and enjoying the game and enjoying the moment and having some fun with it while still being competitive, of course.”

LIGA MX is going to have a tough go of it with this man in the box. All that can be said is, good luck getting past the 6’3” brick wall that is Dayne St. Clair, and all of us Loons fans are going to love watching you try.

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Rey:

This is the second time Emanuel Reynoso has been selected for the All-Star team, and there’s  no need to wonder why. If there is ever an MNUFC play that looks so dynamic it’s almost tough to follow, you can bet your big toe it has Rey in the middle of it. Apart from cooking up plays that spin any defense off balance, Rey has been a key goal scorer, leading the team with 9 goals.

Reynoso came into this season with, no doubt, a bit of a chip on his shoulder; not playing in last year's All-Star match due to injury, and then experiencing a heartbreaking first round playoff loss to end the 2021 campaign — enough to make anybody hungry for a bit of redemption. 

Rey is hungry, or driven, whatever you want to call it. One thing is for sure, if Rey was craving a healthy portion of redemption this season, he’s sat himself at the buffet table the past few matches. Since June 28, he has been the only MLS player to score at least two goals in three separate matches – making club history in the process. Reynoso is ranked second in the league for key passes (54), and has contributed either a goal or assist on eight of the last 12 goals this season.

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Considering that kind of hot streak, Rey’s spot on the All-Star roster is well-deserved. “I’ve been saying for a while, I’m happy. The sacrifice you make every day, with your family. It’s an individual award for yourself and for your family who always supports you,” said Reynoso. “Right now, this moment I’m in is beautiful. In two games, I scored four goals. And in this All-Star Game that’s coming up, it is also nice to enjoy something individually. Now, you keep working. Look for things in the collective, in the group. Keep thinking on what’s coming up that will be very beautiful.”

Speaking of those goals that Rey keeps notching – and there are many – it is always fascinating to learn which are favored. While we have our top-picks, so do the players — and in Rey’s case, LA Galaxy was the victim of an absolute rocket. “Well, the one with Galaxy, the first goal that I hit from outside the box,” said Reynoso. “One of my favorite goals that I have. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was also helpful for the team to win. Hopefully I can score more goals like that and help the team.”

El Rey, we all thank you for your continued contribution, and are excited to see what you cook up at the All-Star game. Rey is crushing his current run of form, but he’s looking forward to more than just playing. “Being able to share the experience with other big players that are in this league,” said Reynoso. “There are a lot of players that are coming from outside the league, too, and it will be a game to enjoy with the family, and obviously to learn. There are a lot of big players with great experience, so we are going to get the most out of it.”

Reynoso expressed his happiness at his teammate [Dayne St. Clair] making the roster as well. While St. Clair holds down the box, Rey will dance in the middle, and it will be a lovely thing to see. It has certainly been a sharp season for the boys, who have fought their way to this moment; however, the path to being an All-Star starts long before the season. The work ethic and individual battles go back years. Now that St. Clair and Reynoso have reached this amazing career milestone, they took a moment to think back on their younger selves. 

St. Clair spoke about patience and grit. “I would tell myself to be patient,” said St. Clair. “I think that I got frustrated very easily and kind of wanted things to happen in the now. I always stayed ready, but there were a lot of times looking back at it that I wanted things to happen now and [needed to focus more] on winning the long game instead of the short benefits, for sure.”

Reynoso spoke about sacrifice, and his love of the game. “You always remember as a kid when you start playing the game you liked, play futbol,” said Rey. “I had the opportunity to debut, play and become a professional, and in that, I’ve grown more. I think about the sacrifices I made every day, with my mom, with my family, who helped me do this. I always remember those sacrifices I made during my childhood.” 

Whatever it took to get these amazing footballers to this point, Minnesota United and its fans are beyond grateful. Especially since Reynoso and St. Clair are set on bringing their All-Star talent to their home pitch, with the desire for team success above all else. With them playing as they are, it gives high hopes to Loons fans.