Toronto FC should try to acquire GK Tyler Miller in Friday's Expansion Draft

November 10, 2022
Michael Singh
November 10, 2022

The 2022 Expansion Draft for Major League Soccer’s newest club, St. Louis City SC, gets underway Friday (7 pm ET | Watch Live on St. Louis CITY SC's YouTube page and simulcast on MLSsoccer.com, the MLS App, as well as MLS's YouTube, Twitter and Twitch pages).

On Thursday, the league released its complete list of draft-eligible players and there’s a few names on that list that may catch the eye of Toronto FC. Why?

Well, although St. Louis will select five players from five different teams, in the past, we’ve seen expansion sides draft players and then opt to subsequently trade those players to other clubs around the league in exchange for other assets.

In 2020, Austin FC drafted Canadian international Kamal Miller from Orlando City SC, but then flipped Miller to CF Montréal in exchange for $225,000 GAM and thoverall pick (Freddy Kleemann). In 2021, Charlotte FC selected 26-year-old Tristan Blackmon from LAFC before trading the defender to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for $475,000 in GAM.

This year, perhaps it’s Toronto FC’s turn to make a trade at the Expansion Draft. If so, there’s one player in particular that the Reds could target above the rest: Minnesota United GK Tyler Miller

Here’s why. 

There’s familiarity

With both Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg not returning next season, Toronto needs to acquire at least two new ‘keepers – including one bonafide starter. Miller has shown in the past that he has the potential to be an everyday starter and would be a big-time upgrade over TFC’s goalkeeping the past two seasons.

There’s not many that can attest to that better than Toronto FC head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley.

The New Jersey-native, who began his career backing up Stefan Frei in Seattle in 2016 and 2017, was the first player chosen by Bradley’s LAFC in their Expansion Draft and was the team’s starting ‘keeper for two seasons (2018 and 2019).

Miller went on to start 64 regular season and playoff games, and was LAFC’s No. 1 during their historic 2019 campaign, backstopping LAFC to their first piece of silverware, the Supporters’ Shield, setting the league-record for most points in a season along the way.

However, out of contract following the 2019 season, Miller’s rights were traded to Minnesota United in exchange for $200,000 in Allocation Money after LAFC signed Dutch veteran goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, spelling the end of a successful two-year tenure.

Why did LAFC and Miller move on?

There has never really been any real clarity on why Miller decided to leave LAFC and join Minnesota, though it is worth noting that despite a career-best season in Los Angeles in 2019, Miller struggled with his mental health because of an incident that occurred halfway through that season.

Playing the best football of his career, Miller was rewarded with a call-up to the U.S. men’s national team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. However, his enthusiasm was short-lived, as he ended up being the only player not to see a minute on the pitch for Gregg Berhalter’s side.

Upon his return to LA, Bradley noted that Miller had gone six weeks without playing a game and that he was out of form. As a result, Miller, whose confidence was shaken, ended up splitting time in goal over the final months of the season with backup ‘keeper Pablo Sisniega.

“I started not enjoying soccer altogether,” Miller said in an interview in 2020. “I didn’t enjoy showing up to training. I didn’t enjoy the daily grind or the work that was required of me to be successful. Once that started to hit, playing in games, really, they were fun and good, but when it was all said and done, I felt myself constantly in a cloud where I couldn’t get out of it.”

Miller also noted that he felt that he was underpaid, making just $77,565 in salary. It’s possible that this was the breaking point, as LAFC maybe felt they couldn’t afford to pay him an additional ~$400,000 a season on his new contract.

But there’s a lot of different reasons why players move on, and that doesn’t mean there can’t be a reunion. Take Mark-Anthony Kaye for instance. The Canadian international was traded from LAFC by Bradley to Colorado, only to be re-acquired by the now-TFC head coach one year later.

Why is Miller left unprotected?

Over the last three seasons, the 29-year-old ‘keeper has battled Canadian international Dayne St. Clair for minutes in goal for the Loons, with the Pickering Ont., native emerging as Minnesota’s No. 1 last season. But Miller never lost his starting role because of poor play.

First, a hip injury cost Miller half of his 2020 season. And despite St. Clair heroically leading Minnesota to the Western Conference Final that year, Miller still managed to regain his spot as the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper in 2021. He went on to start 30 of the club’s 34 regular season MLS matches, but unfortunately, tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the Loon’s lone playoff game that season.

Nevertheless, Miller returned as Minnesota’s starter to begin 2022, but after playing well in the team’s first two games of season, he once again was ruled out of action due to an illness, which resulted in St. Clair taking the reins and never looking back. 

St. Clair, the 2022 All-Star Game MVP, has become one of the best goalkeepers in MLS and at just 26 years old and under contract through 2025, he is the future in goal in Minnesota, making Miller, who made $445,938 in guaranteed compensation last season, expendable.

Why wouldn’t St. Louis draft Miller and what would it cost?

Considering he makes a modest salary for a starting ‘keeper and has already proven that he can find success with an expansion side, Miller would be a solid pick-up for St. Louis, except for the fact that they’ve already signed Roman Burki from Borussia Dortmund, a pricey goalkeeper who could just end up being the best in MLS.

Miller’s also in an option year, the final year on his contract, meaning should they draft him, there’s no guarantee he stays with St. Louis, a team that’s not expected to compete next season, beyond 2023.

As for what acquiring Miller would cost? Well, Toronto would have to make it worthwhile for St. Louis. My best guess is that it would be somewhere in the $300,000-$400,000 range, or essentially the amount of GAM they received on Wednesday from Orlando City SC for homegrown fullback/winger Luca Petrasso. Anything more and the Reds, a team that will be constrained by their budget in 2023, may be better off looking elsewhere.

Will it happen? Who knows. This is all purely speculation, but the veteran goalkeeper does appear to check a lot of boxes, and the more you think about it, the more a deal to acquire Miller makes sense for TFC.

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