Thursday was presumed to be a big one for Minnesota United, and it turned out to be — perhaps just not in the way many expected.
There were reports abound, from both local and foreign publications, that Paraguayan striker Luis Amarilla would be making the trip to St. Paul to sign a deal with the Loons.
The Black and Blue confirmed a new addition, but it was a new goalkeeper making his way to the Twin Cities instead, as the team sent $200,000 in allocation money ($100k in GAM for 2020 and $50k in TAM for 2021) to LAFC in exchange for Tyler Miller. Upon receiving Miller’s rights, he was signed to a deal that will keep him at Allianz Field through the 2022 season, including an option for another year.
With last year’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Vito Mannone declining two lucrative contract offers from Minnesota, and questions regarding who would be in net for the Loons come March 1 piling up, it was imperative for Adrian Heath and co. to bring in someone with experience but who also made sense from a financial/roster structure standpoint.
Miller checks all those boxes.
The 26-year-old started nearly every game for LAFC over the last two seasons and served as a back wall for a squad that not only won the 2019 Supporters Shield but became the winningest team in MLS history.
The monetary details of Miller’s contract have yet to be released, but Minnesota is assuredly saving a significant amount of money compared to what they offered Mannone or what they would have paid former Manchester City keeper Joe Hart, with whom they were reportedly in talks with before the trade for Miller.
In addition to the financial flexibility they presumably still have, the Loons also maintain wiggle room with their roster. Miller doesn’t take up one of the limited international roster spots Mannone or Hart would have, and considering the reports of further potential transfers (including Amarilla), maintaining those slots is extremely beneficial for continuing to optimize this squad for the start of the season.
Speaking of further transfers, Jerry Zgoda from the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting the Black and Blue have indeed come to a contract agreement with both Amarilla and USL midfielder/center back combo player James Musa.
Amarilla would automatically be a top choice for starting striker, allowing wunderkind Mason Toye to come off the bench, a position he thrived in last season.
Musa, who’s spent the last two seasons with Phoenix Rising, unfortunately wouldn’t be bringing $1 Beer Night with him (probably) but would be bringing an ability to thrive in multiple positions on the pitch, and that flexibility would make him a great depth piece for both midfield and defense.
Coming into the day, the glaring position needs for Minnesota were at goalkeeper, striker and midfield/defensive depth. With the trade for Miller, and the reported signings of Amarilla and Musa, all of those needs have been met.
When the Loons report to the National Sports Center for camp on Monday, players and fans alike should be confident they’ll be showing up with a roster that can compete once again for a high playoff seed in the West.