There was one man the Montreal Impact wanted in the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft: Creighton University right back Eric Miller.
But with the No. 10 pick in hand, they knew other teams could beat them to him. Including, presumably, a Canadian rival.
“If you look at Vancouver, Y.P. Lee retired and they needed a right back, but it wasn’t only Vancouver and they didn’t talk to us,” Impact sporting director Nick De Santis told reporters during a conference call on Thursday. “But we knew they did need such a player. And three teams also told us that he was their first pick as well.”
And so Montreal traded for FC Dallas’ No. 5 pick and selected Miller, who they believe will succeed in adjusting to the professional level this season and bring them quality depth. FC Dallas got the 10th pick, allocation money and a 2014 international roster spot – Montreal got that spot back in a second-round trade with D.C. United – but to De Santis, it was a small price to pay and a decision he and head coach Frank Klopas would make again any day.
“Looking at our team, we wanted a very versatile player in defense with good technical and physical attributes,” De Santis said. “He’s quick and he has a good soccer IQ. Was it a costly deal? No. He’s a Generation adidas player, and we think he’ll be a very good player in this league.”
In Miller, Montreal get a defender who could provide width with his forays forward, a flashback to his high school days in Minnesota playing in midfield against the likes of new Montreal teammate Calum Mallace. Miller made the transition to right back as a freshman at Creighton, when he saw the vacant position as an opportunity to get on the field.
That position, Miller said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com, is where he’s now most comfortable. But the center back, left back and holding midfielder strings also feature on his bow, and Miller is happy to do for Montreal what he did for Creighton: “Whatever they want.”
“I’m not too sure what they expect of me at this point, but I expect to go in right away and contribute, try and work hard, earn minutes or at least be on the bench,” he said. “If not, I’m going to be working hard every day to improve myself as a professional, and hopefully be able to contribute to the club.”