It may have come as a surprise to many when Los Angeles Football Club selected goalkeeper Tyler Miller as the first pick in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft. The Seattle Sounders goalkeeper had all of four appearances in MLS, after all.
But LAFC general manager John Thorrington said he had gotten extensive time watching Miller in college when the ‘keeper played for Northwestern and Thorrington was in business school there. That, combined with a generally good impression of Miller in limited action in Seattle indicates the 24-year-old may have considerable upside in his career.
To find out more about a player who hasn’t actually played a lot so far in MLS, we spoke with our old friend Dave Clark of SB Nation Sounders blog Sounder at Heart about Miller. Here’s Dave’s report below, and many thanks to him and the SaH staff for their thoughts about Miller.
Things that can't be trained are where Miller excels. His reflexes are great and is quick for his size. Can be troubled in a crowded box with bodies in the air, depending a bit on his reactions rather than snuffing trouble early. Is adjusting to be more aggressive.
Significant improvement over the past year. No longer were goal kicks a guessing game. He can start attacks, which is important with how Seattle tends to play. Still, should use thrown balls rather than kicked ones more frequently.
May still be a weakness, though he learns under Tommy Dutra (Sounders ‘keepers coach) and Stefan Frei, a rather typical default to experienced center backs can be natural. This can be problematic on corners and indirect kicks. This has improved, but not enough to impact [Sounders’ USL team] S2's defense.
Thoughts from Scott Burbidge, SaH S2 specialist:
The most important thing to note about Miller is that he has definitely improved some of his weaknesses this year. He has gotten much better at handling crosses and has made gotten better at distributing from the back, though he still has some work to do there. His reflexes remain elite and he routinely made stunning, sometime unbelievable saves.
All of that said, there are two things that keep Miller from being an MLS caliber goalkeeper at the moment. His judgment and decision making when he comes off his line and his footwork on low shots. He really needs to improve both of those areas of his game to even be a reliable backup MLS keeper. These are things that can be improved upon with work and experience, so there is no reason to give up on his MLS future yet.
Best Case 2018 if still in Seattle:
The number two behind one of the league's best keepers, the only way Miller would get time here is on a deep U.S. Open Cup run or injury.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!