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Coming out of rehab, Loons’ Chase Gasper implores others in need to seek help

On March 16, MLS announced Gasper had voluntarily entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. He returned to training Friday

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United defender Chase Gasper (77) and Los Angeles FC defender Kim Moon-Hwan (33) compete for the ball in the first half on Oct. 23, 2021, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
David Berding / USA Today Sports
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Chase Gasper said he thought he was being strong, suffering in silence for what he estimated was more than eight years. The Minnesota United defender shared that seeking help had been on my mind for a while, but “it just kind of reached a tipping point.”

On March 16, MLS announced Gasper had voluntarily entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. He entered the Cliffside Malibu rehab program in California and returned to training with MNUFC on Friday.

After practice Tuesday, the 26-year-old shined a light on what he called a stigma surrounding struggles with “anxiety, depression and addiction.”

“I’m glad I finally found that light and that hope,” Gasper said. “It took a while. It was a really tough time and a dark journey, but I just want to try to be an example that, I promise you, there is hope and there is that light.”

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Minnesota United FC
Colorado Rapids defender Lucas Esteves (66) plays the ball against Minnesota United midfielder Hassani Dotson (31) and defender Chase Gasper (77) during the second half Oct. 10, 2021, at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

Coming out the other side, Gasper thanked the club and its fans for their support. He smiled and said: “I feel better than I have in years.”

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Gasper’s decision was good news to Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who was Gasper’s college teammate at the University of Maryland before they were drafted in the first round by Minnesota in 2019.

“I’m really proud of him for doing that; I know it wasn’t easy,” St. Clair said. “… He just has that aura, I think. … I think the whole team got a boost when he came back, too, because no one knew how long, to what extent it was gonna be.”

Gasper, who has 63 regular-season MLS appearances with Minnesota, ran, lifted weights and did some ball work while in California. United manager Adrian Heath said he plans to have Gasper make his season debut in the U.S. Open Cup game against Forward Madison on Wednesday in Wisconsin.

Open Cup

The U.S. Open Cup took a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020 and 2021, making the Loons’ run to the final in 2019 the last iteration of the national tournament.

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The Loons previously played the Flamingos in a friendly match in Wisconsin in 2019 when Forward Madison was MNUFC’s lower-level affiliate. The Flamingos, who play in USL League One, were in Blaine for a scrimmage against MNUFC2 in February.

Heath said he will have a “mixed” roster of first-team players and reserves for the knockout match in Wisconsin’s capital. Loons’ Designated Player Adrien Hunou, who scored his first goal of the season in a 4-0 win Colorado Rapids 2 on Sunday, will start and so will goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

Madison has three draws in three USL games this season; they beat an amateur team, Cleveland SC, to advance out of the second round.

Briefly

Details on the MLS All-Star Game at Allianz Field will be shared at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mount Airy Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul, the league said Tuesday. News will include the game’s opponent, particulars on the concert and community efforts to support inclusion. … United manager Adrian Heath will be responsible for some of the MLS roster selections before the showcase on Aug. 10. … The Loons’ MLS match vs. Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. Saturday will air on ESPN; it will be broadcast by Fire play-by-play commentator Tyler Terens and MNUFC color analyst Kyndra de St. Aubin.

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