Beyond the Box: Can You Hear Me Now?

With his first ever shot in a promising MLS career, Hassani Dotson struck gold.

In the 28thminute, with the Loons down 1-0, midfielder Jan Gregus sent a long ball into the box that was cleared by the Philadelphia defense. Unfortunately for the Union, it landed directly in the path of Dotson. The left back took the ball off the first bounce and guided an arrowing half-volley off the post and past the outstretched arms of Union goalkeeper Andre Blake. The strike tied the game at 1-1 and sent the Wonderwall into raptures, a moment that Dotson will remember for years to come.

When asked about his goal, Dotson said, “The ball came in from a cross and bounced up and I could see there was a little opening on the left side of the defender and I tried to hit there because I was guessing it was a blind spot for the goalkeeper and it went in.”

After the game, Head Coach Adrian Heath remarked that Dotson may even be one of the best finishers in the squad. When asked about Dotson’s goal, Heath said, “It doesn’t surprise me. A couple times tonight, he’s cut in on his right foot and I wanted him to have a go because he’s a very clean, very good, positive striker of the ball.”

For his scintillating performance on both sides of the ball, Dotson was named the Bell Bank Man of the Match. Making just his third MLS start, the young fullback ran tirelessly up and down the left flank, combining with veteran Miguel Ibarra as a constant threat to the Union defense.

“[Miguel Ibarra] was really helpful to me,” Dotson said. “He runs his socks off. If he sees I’m in a little bit of trouble, he makes the extra angle to support and it’s really helpful.”

Dotson, who is right footed, kept the Union defense guessing. He cut inside multiple times on his dominant foot and sent dangerous passes into the Union penalty box. Dotson also used his speed to get to the end line, sending in pinpoint crosses with his left foot.

“I think he showed that he has quality, too,” said fellow defender Brent Kallman. “He’s not just this athletic powerful defender. He’s shown everything that he can do. [There were] a couple situations where he’s blowing by guys. He’s got a really well-rounded game and he was able to show [that] today.”

Despite scoring his first career goal and earning Man of the Match, Dotson remained grounded. “It was a nice moment but it doesn’t feel good since we lost today. I thought everyone put in a good shift and we were unlucky not to get three points,” he said.

With a game next week against Colorado and a U.S. Open Cup matchup against Sporting Kansas City on the horizon, Dotson will look to continue his excellent run of form and cement his place in the MNUFC starting lineup.

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