On Thursday, Minnesota United acquired Los Angeles FC goalkeeper Tyler Miller for $200 in allocation money. The American is no Vito Mannone, but he is still a smart signing.
Goalkeeper might well have been Minnesota United’s greatest position of need. Vito Mannone was superb in 2019, eventually named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for his performances. He played in all 34 matches for the Loons and kept 11 clean sheets. Only Brad Guzan and Bill Hamid kept more clean sheets.
Mannone made the second-most saves in MLS and had the fourth-highest save percentage in MLS. He was excellent for Minnesota and a crucial reason why they only conceded 43 goals across the entire campaign.
However, Mannone was only in Minnesota on a year-long loan from English club Reading. He was always set to return to England this offseason, and with long-term aspirations of becoming a goalkeeper in Europe, it was always going to be difficult for Minnesota to convince him to return, on another loan deal or permanently.
And so it has proved. While initially, Minnesota United attempted to attract Mannone back to Minneapolis with a lucrative offer, it was clear that the Italian wanted to try and crack Europe. So, as the offseason unfolded, it became clear that Minnesota would have to turn to other options. And this week, after an exhaustive search that included washed-up European star Joe Hart, they finally landed their man, Los Angeles FC’s Tyler Miller.
On Thursday, Minnesota United signed Miller to a two-year contract with a club option for a third year for $150,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money and $50,000 in 2021 Allocation Money. Head coach Adrian Heath was glowing in his assessment of the LAFC shot-stopper:
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"“We think we’ve signed one of the best young goalkeepers in the league, who was invited to the (U.S.) national team last year We’ve spoken to all the people that have worked with him and they’re all incredibly complimentary. But more importantly, Stuart Kerr, who we believe is the best goalkeeping coach in the league, he thinks the upside is huge with this guy <…> I think the best days of Tyler Miller are ahead of him and I couldn’t be more pleased that we’ve got him.”"
As Heath rightly highlights, Miller is a high-potential signing. Still only 26 years of age, he is physically imposing, a terrific shot-stopper, and has great athleticism to make spectacular, diving saves as he leaps across the goal. But he is not perfect.
Miller made several high-profile errors, especially against crosstown rivals, the LA Galaxy, and suffered a major slump following his USMNT call-up. He is certainly not the same calibre of goalkeeper as Mannone, but he is also actually available and has been acquired for a very kind fee.
Miller may be a step down from the man he is replacing, but he is extremely gifted, cheap, and signed for up to three years. It is still a smart move from Minnesota United.