Dayne St. Clair carries a good amount of confidence from the University of Maryland’s national championship run.
But that isn’t the only reason why confidence is coming out of the goalkeeper ahead of the 2019 MLS draft.
As a Canadian and as a goalkeeper coming out of Maryland, there are paths laid for St. Clair to follow to have success in Major League Soccer.
St. Clair looks up to Zack Steffen, who made his way from Maryland to Europe to back in MLS with the Columbus Crew to Manchester City, and he’s one of the players the redshirt junior models his game after.
“I’d say I consider myself a modern-day goalkeeper,” St. Clair said. “In recent years, Ederson, the way he plays with the same values, and then coming from the same program as Zack (Steffen), I look up to him as well. I carry the same culture and values.”
The Maryland goalkeeper also remembers watching fellow Canadian Cyle Larin go No. 1 in the 2015 draft, and he’s seen plenty of Maryland teammates chosen in the selection process.
“Since I’ve been at Maryland, I’ve always had teammates involved,” St. Clair said. “I remember in high school, there were a few Canadians, that was when Cyle Larin got drafted. I remember watching it in high school as well.”
He also has extra motivation to succeed as a Canadian with the 2026 World Cup on home soil looming.
“Whether it was in Canada or not, it was something I wanted to be a part of, but especially it being on home soil is the extra motivation,” St. Clair said. “Not a lot of people can say they played in a World Cup, but also played on home soil. That definitely became a goal of mine.”
But St. Clair knows getting into the first team at a MLS club and then working his way through the Canadian national team ranks will be a challenge.
No matter how hard the task is, St. Clair is motivated to earn his chance at the professional level.
On the international level, the Ontario native has been notified that he’s in the pool for Canada’s U23 team.
“I think I started U15 and then was in and out,” St. Clair said. “And then I was with the U20 and I’ve been notified I’m in the U23 pool as well.”
Although he grew up near Toronto FC, St. Clair, who started playing goalkeeper full time at 14, didn’t join the club’s academy for a variety of reasons, and instead developed at Vaughan Soccer Club, where one of his coaches helped him link up with Maryland.
“There’s various reasons. My club is very good. I knew that Vaughan at the time had very good connections to go to school in the States,” St. Clair said.
“At TFC, they had Quillen Roberts signed at the time and a 97 goalie that was on the national team with me as well,” St. Clair said. “It was going to be tough for playing time. I knew at a young age you want to try and play as much as you can so I want to Vonn. They definitely helped me get to Maryland. One of my coaches actually went to Maryland.
“The time they trained with their academy and how far away I lived, it was going to be tough for me to get there,” St. Clair said. “The whole logistics didn’t work out.”
At Maryland, St. Clair went through plenty of ups and downs, but all the shortcomings helped the experienced leaders on the Terrapins roster end up as national champions in 2018.
“Especially with our senior class, our freshman year we lost in the Elite Eight in PKs, then went and had an undefeated season and lost in that crazy game to Providence and last season was definitely tough with the way the season ended with the amount of losses,” St. Clair said. “We dealt with that and said this is something we don’t want to do this year.”
“We had a big senior class,” St. Clair said. “We came together as a unit and got the lads together and said this was our time.”
With confidence backed from a title run, St. Clair is hoping to parlay that into a first-round selection and a strong start in MLS.
“As a player at my position, I want to be involved not only in the short term, but in the long term goals of the club,” St. Clair said. “It’s about proving myself from Day 1, earning the respect of the players and coaches and using those building blocks so when I do get that opportunity, I’m ready for it.”