Minnesota United FC fullback Chase Gasper is having a stand-out second season in Major League Soccer. The left-back has played in all fourteen of the Loons matches so far this season, starting in 13 of them. In total, Gasper has played a combined 1,214 minutes out of a possible 1,260.
“It’s nice to have this week-long break before th Dynamo, but it’s tough on everyone’s bodies. I’m not in a position to complain; it’s affecting everyone the same way,” Gasper said. “You’ve gotta have that grinding mentality, Just gotta get through it, but again, it is nice to have a few days off here.”
Gasper, a 2018 NCAA Division I champion with Maryland, was a top-five finisher in 2019 Rookie of the Year voting in MLS along with Minnesota teammate Hassani Dotson, who finished third in voting. Gasper’s vital contributions to the Loons on the left-hand side of the pitch have fans and supporters murmuring his name as a potential player of the season candidate along with fellow defender Michael Boxall and winger Kevin Molino. Gasper’s contributions have come in many different forms over the course of those 14 matches, with him slowly turning into an attacking-minded fullback for United. Gasper scored his first MLS goal in a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Sept. 6, which only adds to his versatility going forward, but he still possesses the awareness and defensive capabilities to be considered one of the most well-rounded fullbacks in the league.
According to WhoScored.com, Gasper has been averaging 1.8 tackles per game in MLS play while averaging 38 passes per match with an 82% succession rate. His compatriot on the right-hand side of the pitch, 2019 All-Star Romain Metanire, has been averaging 42.7 passes per match, but only at a 78% completion rate. Although statistics don’t tell the whole story, it’s fair to say that Gasper’s continuing development has vitally helped the Loons in the race for the 2020 MLS Supporter’s Shield and a 2020 Audi Playoff spot.
“It’s humbling to be able to play, to be able to have the role I do.”
Gasper feels honored by all of the support that Loons fans and head coach Adrian Heath have given him as of late, but he still sees room for improvement. He feels confident in his ability moving forward as a defense, it’s something he’s been working on with training, but he also highlighted the success the team is having with Robin Lod on the right and Molino on the left — a switch Heath made during the Phase 1 restart.
“Whether it’s Kevin Molino or Robin Lod, Adrian wants to create a 2v1 advantage, an overlap, just to have that numerical advantage. We know that the best defense can also attack on offense and that requires our midfielders to track back and that helps us keep the opposition pinned in their own half,” Gasper said. “It helps keep our defense organized and that’s just really important.”
Prior to Minnesota’s last match against Sporting Kansas City, Lod appeared as a guest and mentioned that he believes he and Gasper are very similar players, and it sometimes would cause a little congestion between the two of them. Gasper said he was “humbled” when it was mentioned to him because he holds high praise for the Finnish winger.
“I didn’t think there was really a problem, but I think he just naturally prefers that right side — he’s played that side for the majority of his career, so when he’s there, he’s like Arjen Robben cutting in on his left [In training and matches].”
Gasper’s ongoing success has seen him touted as a potential solution to the hole at the left-back position for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Gasper mentioned that he hasn’t been in contact with head coach Gregg Berhalter, but that he keeps in touch with the assistant coaches.
“I haven’t spoken with him (Berhalter) directly about it, but I’ve talked with the assistant coaches who are calling and checking in on me.”
With 2022 World Cup Qualifying rumored to be starting in the fall of 2021, Gasper is someone who will be vying with other defenders for one of the coveted roster spots.
The Loons will begin Phase 2 of the MLS restart this coming Saturday, where they’ll face a familiar foe in the Houston Dynamo and old friends Darwin Quintero and Christian Ramirez, who lead the scoring charts all-time in Minnesota. When the two teams met during Phase 1 of the MLS restart, a goal from Darwin Quintero helped see the Dynamo run rampant in a 3-0 win on Sept. 2.
“We know Houston, we just played them a couple of weeks ago, we know Darwin and Christan too so we just gotta prepare and focus up and start on a high note away from home.”
Gasper’s impressive 2020 leaves room for improvement, his quick rise in the league has many throwing his name out as one of the best domestic defenders in the league.
Currently, Minnesota has three more matches to begin Phase 2, but a rumored nine more matches will follow to complete the 2020 regular season. That gives Gasper a possible 12 more matches to continue his impressive season in a Loons kit, while he continues progressing towards his goal of representing his country on the national level.