PORTLAND, ORE. – He has already called his four young goalkeepers the best of MLS’ bunch, so it’s no surprise how Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath says he feels specifically about new starter Tyler Miller, who made his Loons debut in Sunday’s season opener vs. Portland.
“Better than I thought, that’s all I can say,” Heath said. “I wouldn’t trade Tyler Miller for any goalkeeper in the league, and that’s after six weeks. That’s easy for me to say, I know. But I haven’t said it before about anybody else. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the league.”
Heath coached 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Vito Mannone last season, but Mannone turned down two United offers that would have made him the league’s highest-paid keeper, more than Atlanta’s Brad Guzan. He earned $740,000 total compensation and signed a new extension with Atlanta last month.
So Heath and United went and traded $200,000 in combined allocation money to LAFC and signed Miller to a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth season. In doing so, the Loons signed him for a portion what they offered Mannone and received a keeper who started all 61 games he played LAFC the past two seasons. Included was LAFC’s Supporters’ Shield season.
Miller, 26, played one game each season when he backed up Stefan Frei in Seattle, then was chosen first overall by LAFC in the expansion draft for the 2018 season. He said he came to Minnesota because of the team’s newly added depth over the winter and its accomplished backline of Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall, two-time MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and Chase Gasper.
“That was one of the deciding factors where I wanted to go,” Miller said. “I wanted to go to a place I could help that defense be successful and I felt like this was a good move for me.”
Heath was comprehensive when asked what he likes so much about his new keeper.
“Everything,” Heath said. “Great in the locker room, makes big saves, has great feet. He’s everything you’re looking for in a modern-day goalkeeper.”
Ike’s All-Star aim
Opara turned 31 two weeks ago and on Sunday began his 11th MLS starting at center back with himself aimed at third MLS Defender of the Year award. He has already won in 2017 and 2019.
“I want to keep my name in that conversation,” he said. “In one weird aspect, I would like to be an All-Star. I’ve yet to be one, which is kind of fascinating. Not because it means something, but it’s in LA and they’re probably going to do things right. I think it’ll be a cool experience.”
Finlay moves forward
Veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay started his 10th MLS season after he was one of several players United made available in November’s expansion draft. Nashville took Loons young striker Abu Danladi second overall.
“I never take any offense to it,” Finlay said. “I’ve been around it too much. I knew there was a possibility a team could have picked me up, but that time has come and passed. I’m happy to be back. You move forward.”