Minnesota United traded veteran defender and Woodbury-raised Eric Miller to New York City FC on Monday in a deal that can create a new roster spot and more salary flexibility before MLS’ current transfer window closes.
Three factors created what Loons sporting director Manny Lagos called the right moment for the deal: New York City’s interest in adding defensive depth at left back, United’s recent signing of veteran French player Wilfried Moimbe at that position next to promising rookie Chase Gasper, and Miller’s desire to play more.
“It felt like right timing on both sides,” Lagos said. “It had to do with where we were and where he was. It worked out.”
United will get $50,000 in general-allocation money (GAM) that, given MLS salary-cap complexities with its general and targeted allocation money, is worth twice that or more that the team can apply to Moimbe’s signing.
That’s the same amount United received with Miller when it traded Sam Nicholson to Colorado for him and GAM in May 2018. GAM is available to MLS clubs in addition to their salary budget and can be used in several ways.
Miller called the opportunity to play for his hometown team “a dream come true.”
“It was amazing to help open Allianz Field, and I’m looking forward to watching the club continue to grow from afar,” he said by text message. “But I’m really excited about the new opportunity in NYC.”
Miller, 26, played 18 games for United last season after it acquired him and another six MLS games this season. He started five of those six games here in 2019, including four consecutively as a left-back starter when the team shuffled the lineup to improve its leaky defense and traded left back/captain Francisco Calvo in May.
He was in uniform when United opened new $250 million Allianz Field — coincidentally against New York City — in his home state in April. He last started an MLS game July 6 at Montreal at right back.
“Him being from here and being a part of opening Allianz Field, hopefully that was special for him,” Lagos said. “For the club, we’re really appreciative and grateful he was part of that. He brought a good defensive mentality every day at training that has set us on a good path. Just the way he went about things every day the last year and a half. We wish him nothing but the best.”
This is United’s third transaction in an MLS transfer window that started July 9 and ends Aug. 9. It signed Finnish national team midfielder Robin Lod using targeted-allocation money soon after the window opened. Two weeks later, the Loons signed Moimbe for left-footed, left-back depth as well to help with push to the playoffs.
Will the Miller move create a fourth by next week?
“Can’t say for sure,” Lagos said. “No doubt we want to think about the window if something makes sense and makes us better, but we’re certainly pleased with this group, how they’re playing and the depth we have right now.”
Montreal selected Miller fifth overall out of Creighton in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He moved to Colorado two years later. In 2017, he started all 30 games in which he played and was named the Rapids’ Defensive Player of the Year.