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Will the Loons be ok without Tyler Miller?

MNUFC’s starting GK underwent hip surgery this past week

San Jose Earthquakes v Minnesota United: Quarterfinals - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Yesterday Minnesota United announced that starting goalkeeper Tyler Miller had undergone successful hip surgery. The surgery will keep him out for the rest of the 2020 season; at the same time the Loons recalled Dayne St. Clair from USL Championship side San Antonio FC.

St. Clair was loaned out to San Antonio FC back in February before the COVID-19 outbreak took the world by storm. DSC was initially loaned out to SAFC for the full season, but just like with the two most recent loans, MNUFC had the right to recall him at any time. The question now comes as two fold.

  1. Who will start at Goalkeeper for the remainder of the season?
  2. How will Minnesota fare without Miller manning the net?

The first question is who the starter will be. The two choices are Dayne St. Clair and Greg Ranjitsingh (Fred Emmings is 16 but is under contract). One upside for DSC is him being recalled from San Antonio, and he seems to be MNUFC’s long term plan for a goalkeeper. The problem is the 23 year old St. Clair only has 10 professional starts since being selected by MNUFC in the 2019 SuperDraft. Five of those starts came for Forward Madison last season and five came for San Antonio FC this season. In his 5 starts for San Antonio he has 3 wins and 2 draws with 3 clean sheets.

Ranjitsingh on the other hand is the older of the two players with much more professional experience. He was selected last November by Minnesota in the 2019 Waiver Draft. From 2015-18 Greg played with United Soccer League (now USL Championship) side Louisville City FC. During his time in Kentucky he made 90 starts across all competitions and posted 39 clean sheets. Greg Ranjitsingh was then signed by Orlando City for the 2019 season, but during his one season with the Lions he made only two starts.

With his overall experience I can see Heath starting Greg Ranjitsingh over Dayne St. Clair with DSC being on the bench in case he is needed. And I’m guessing that’s the way things will go tomorrow against Sporting Kansas City.

The second question is the more pressing issue as Minnesota has typically struggled on the defensive side of play. This season and last season that has changed, last year was evident on how much of a part Vito Mannone played in the teams overall effort. He made a total of 133 saves on 181 shots across 37 matches (MLS Regular Season plus MLS Cup Playoffs) with a GAA of 1.285. Tyler Miller on the other hand has given up 11 goals through 8 matches with a GAA of 1.375 on the season with 21 saves on 32 shots. On a per game basis that puts MNUFC’s defense allowing 4.89 shots on target per game in 2019 vs exactly 4 shots on target allowed per game in 2020.

While the number itself may seem small, giving up almost a full shot per match less is a huge deal and means the defense has stepped up letting less balls and shots through on a nightly basis. And remember this has been a defense without Ike Opara for most of the season as well. While the goalkeeper plays a HUGE part and I cannot understate that, Minnesota has a chance to be successful whether it’s DSC or Ranjitsingh in goal, as long as they do what they have been this season. The defense needs to prevent good shots from being taken inside the box.