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Q&A | Dayne St. Clair and Hassani Dotson Talk International Duty

Dayne St. Clair and Hassani Dotson have spent the first few weeks of 2021 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, with the Canadian and U.S. Men’s National Teams, respectively. 

St. Clair and the CANMNT trained from January 9 – January 24 preparing for both FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying in March 2021. This selection marked St. Clair’s first call-up to Canada Soccer’s senior squad. 

Hassani Dotson was included on a list of players selected to train with the U23 U.S. National Team as the team prepares for Olympic Qualifying. This selection marked Dotson’s third call-up to the U23 MNT squad, but only his second camp since last year’s CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship was suspended due to the pandemic. 

Hear from our two Loons on International Duty below. 

 

DAYNE ST. CLAIR ON CANMNT CAMP

This is your first call up to the Canadian Men’s National Team. What does it mean to you to get an opportunity to represent your country?

It means everything. I think growing up, playing for the youth national teams, it was always something that I aspired to do and I think I’m just proud to be able to represent my country any time they call me in. And, hopefully, this is the first of many. 

You appeared for the Canada Men’s National U18 team when you were younger and last year, you were named to the Canadian U23 provisional roster for the 2020 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, so the national team thing isn’t entirely new to you. What is your current experience with the senior squad like compared to your past experiences?

It’s been very different, of course. In that time, we’ve had a new men’s national team coach since I last trained with the under-20s. And, the under-23s, we never got to that camp because of COVID, so I think there was a lot of stuff I would have learned and adapted to then but, with the new coach and new systems and things like that, it’s just been about trying to adapt myself into the system and show that I can fit in and play within the system. And be good teammates to the guys as well. 

How does it feel to be in the mix with players you both regularly see in the MLS and players outside the league? Is there anyone on the squad you grew up playing with and are now both here representing your country? 

A lot of these guys even in the Toronto area, you grew up playing against or knew of. Some of the other guys are from different places and you kind of heard of the name. So to be able to train with them and see them up close and personal has been a good experience. 

Actually, my best friend, Kamal Miller, who just got traded from Orlando to Montreal, we grew up together. I’d say that’s probably my best friend in the world. And, then from my club as well, there’s five or six of us who have had the same coach, even though we might not have been friends, have kind of went through the same system, so we have a little bit of a connection there as well. 

What are some of your goals with the Canadian National Team? 

Most importantly, one of our team goals is to qualify for this upcoming World Cup. And, of course, we’ll have a separate group going to Olympic Qualifying as well in March. So those are our two main focuses right now. And to have my name in that mix is going to be important for me as well. 

What are some of your goals with Minnesota United in 2021? 

I think we had a good year in 2020, but I think it was also a year we can really build upon as well. I think having a season under my belt, I want to become more of a leader within the group and really push ourselves and see how much further that we can take it. 

 

HASSANI DOTSON ON U23 USMNT CAMP

First of all, what does it mean to you to get another opportunity to represent your country? 

It’s awesome. I think any time that you get called into selection it makes you happy and proud. And, you know, to fulfill a dream that I’ve had as a kid to participate in the Olympics. 

You were a member of the United States U23 team in 2019, playing in several friendlies and, last year, you were named to the Olympic qualifying team, so the national team thing isn’t entirely new to you. What is your current experience like in this camp compared to your past few experiences with this group?

I think it’s pretty cool to be integrated with some of the first team players. The model for the national team goes from the first team down. So I’m familiar with a lot of the tactics that we have. It’s also nice to play, for example, against Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan. And to also have Gregg [Berhalter] there along with Jason [Kreis]. It kind of makes it feel like more of a step-by-step process into the first team. 

How does it feel to be in the mix with players you both regularly see in the MLS and players outside the league? Is there anyone on the squad you grew up playing with and are now both here representing your country? 

Yeah! So, for example, Chris Gloster, he’s been in a few camps with me. I’m pretty familiar with him. It’s like a big family here. Everyone is used to the camp set up. But just trying to keep improving and I’m excited for the friendlies that are coming up. 

For him [Dayne St. Clair], it’s definitely a small world! For me, I’d say Benji Michel. I actually hosted him. He was supposed to come to Oregon State, but he decided to play for University of Portland. I hosted him my freshman year. So we’ve had a good relationship since then. And then, obviously, Jordan Morris, he broke out even before I started playing academy. He broke out for the Sounders, so I knew his name from when I was younger. 

What are some of your goals with the USMNT? 

One of them is to be available for every selection. And, hopefully, to make it to qualifiers again in March. And then after that, qualify for the Olympics. And then after that, try to be integrated into the first team and get my first cap. 

What are some of your goals with Minnesota United in 2021? 

We have a really competitive team and we did pretty well last year, even though we think we could have ended on a better note. A goal of mine is to establish a starting spot. Like I said, it’s pretty difficult with how competitive the team is, but that would be my number one goal. 

 

 

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