Hassani Dotson with Loon Hat

Top 10 Moments … So Far: Hassani Dotson Clinches the Playoffs

As we prepare for Minnesota United’s first-ever home playoff game on Sunday, October 20 against the LA Galaxy, we’re taking an opportunity to look back at 10 of our favorite moments from what was a historic, dramatic and action-packed 2019 regular season.

Over the course of a season, there are myriad storylines that can begin to take hold for a team: a player returning from injury, a new acquisition galvanizing the squad, opening a new stadium, fighting for a playoff berth, the rise of young players, exorcising old demons by beating rivals, and on and on. Minnesota United’s 2019 season was rich with these kinds of stories, but when several of them collided in one dramatic moment, it created an explosion.

After two years of futility, the Loons found themselves heading into the stretch run angling for a spot in the playoffs for the first time. With three games remaining, MNUFC welcomed Sporting Kansas City — a perennial thorn in Minnesota’s side and an opponent they’d played 12 times since 2014 — to Allianz Field with a chance to clinch.

But the home side fell behind early after a … let’s just say suspiciously handsy goal by Botond Barath off a set piece in the seventh minute. The crowd would be on pins and needles until Osvaldo Alonso reprised his goal to open Allianz Field back in April in the 70th minute to draw the sides level.

With a few other things going their way, the Loons could have clinched the playoffs with a draw. But Hassani Dotson had something else to say about that. Coming on in the 61st minute, the rookie — a second-round MLS SuperDraft pick from Oregon State University who had made a name for himself with his positional flexibility and penchant for big goals this season — cut hard into the box after dropping the ball back to Alonso in the 90th minute. Alonso got it onto his feet but meeting opposition, he skated toward the middle of the field, parallel to the endline. Spying a sliver of daylight, he ripped a shot that glanced off a diving Barath and past goalkeeper Tim Melia. The stadium detonated.

As he charged towards the sideline, slid into the corner flag and then ran to the fans, mobbed by teammates, the roar in the stadium was deafening and a fitting echo to the din that followed Alonso’s first goal all the way back in April. To see the weight of expectation handled so lightly by one with so much already proven but so much left to prove in a promising career was a joy and a moment that will not soon be forgotten by those who were there to experience it.