Minnesota United’s Woodbury contingent was cut in half this morning with the announcement that fullback Eric Miller was traded to New York City FC. The Loons received $50,000 in General Allocation Money for the 26-year old, who came to play for his hometown club in a 2018 trade with Colorado for Sam Nicholson. Miller made 18 starts for Minnesota as a utility defender, splitting time as a right and left back in Minnesota’s four- and five-man back lines as well as appearing as a third center back.
A local product of Woodbury High School and the Minnesota Thunder Academy, Miller has had a journeyman’s career early in his time in MLS. Originally drafted out of Creighton University by the Montreal Impact in the first round of the 2014 SuperDraft, New York City FC will mark his fourth team in his six MLS seasons. The versatile defender is noted more for his defensive prowess, scoring once in Open Cup play for Colorado and collecting three assists in his 110 career MLS games.
Miller found it difficult to find regular playing time for the Loons in 2019, starting the season behind both Romain Metanire and Francisco Calvo as the team’s utility defender. He made his first appearance of the year on April 25, going the distance in the team’s scoreless draw at home to the Los Angeles Galaxy, and started the next three games before the emergence of rookies Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper as starting-level options on both flanks of the back line. He last saw the pitch in Minnesota’s 6-1 U.S. Open Cup win over New Mexico United on July 11, and last started in MLS on July 6.
The move frees up a senior roster spot for Minnesota, who will have two left following the additions of Robin Lod and Wilfried Moimbe once their transfer and immigration paperwork clears. Additionally, it nets the team the going rate for a depth-level defender—the $50,000 in allocation money matches the money Columbus sent to Seattle for Waylon Francis earlier this season, as well as the cost Chicago sent to Columbus for the rights to sign Jonathan Bornstein last week.
For Miller, the move should offer a more regular chance at game day roster appearances, as NYCFC’s roster only features seven true defenders despite playing with three center backs and a pair of defensive-minded wing backs in five of their last seven games. The Cityzens appear to have done adequate scouting. “One of our goals during the summer transfer window was to add depth at the right back position,” NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a statement, “and Eric is a player who can come in and immediately strengthen our team. He’s a versatile player who performs well in different positions which gives our roster added flexibility when playing varying systems.”