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Players Jan 26, 2021

American goalkeeper Carver Miller earns promotion within Bundesliga club

Carver Miller, an American goalkeeper, has extended his affiliation with Bundesliga club Arminia Bielefeld by accepting a promotion to the club’s U-19 team for the 2021-2022 season.

Miller, who is just 16 years old, moved over to Bielefeld’s academy in the summer of 2020 after several years with D.C. United’s academy program. The rare chance to train and develop in one of Europe’s top leagues came when Miller’s family moved to Germany for work reasons, and after Miller participated in guest-trainings in Germany, including a round of intensive tryouts with Bielefeld.

Miller won the starting goalkeeper job with Bielefeld’s U-17 team this fall in a campaign often interrupted by coronavirus health restrictions. In eight games against some of Germany’s best youth development teams, Miller produced a 3-3-2 record, one clean-sheet, and a decisive penalty-kick save to salvage a win against Eintracht Braunschweig.

Bielefeld’s U-19 team plays in the Bundesliga West division, the highest level of youth soccer in the country. The schedule includes matches with the academy teams from world-renowned clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, 1. FC Köln and Fortuna Düsseldorf.

As the last team in the academy’s development pyramid, Bielefeld’s U-19 team – known in Germany as the “A-Junioren” – is the highly selective group of players just below Arminia’s Bundesliga first team. The academy’s website explains that the U-19 team is “primarily oriented to moving talented players with good prospects towards the professional ranks.”

Arminia’s staff have high praise for Miller.

“It’s an total joy to work with Carver,” said goalkeeper coach Sebastian Völzow. “He is incredibly coachable and is determined to learn and develop. You rarely encounter such a professional attitude.”

About his opportunity to continue with Bielefeld, Miller said: “I’m thrilled! It’s always been my dream to play for a Bundesliga club and I’m very thankful for the chance Arminia is giving me. I’m getting the best possible training and I’m playing against the best possible competition. My game is improving a ton and that development will continue for another remarkable year.”

The move to a top-flight German academy required Miller to leave family and friends behind, and to face the challenge of attending a German-language high school in the midst of a pandemic.

“The club made the tough transition as smooth as possible,” Miller said. “My teammates welcomed me. The coaches gave me a fair chance to compete, and they invested a lot in my progress as a player. I also got a lot of support at the school from the team and the teachers.”

Miller credited the coaches and administrators who have helped him develop during his time with Bielefeld, including: Völzow, academy director Finn Holsing, youth sporting director René Müller, along with U-17 coaches Marcel Drobe, Christian Kerksieck and Tom Schütz.

“I want to mention each of them,” Miller said, “because they’ve all played a huge role in my success in Bielefeld so far and they’ve made Arminia feel like a family to me.”

With his move up to the U-19 team next year, Miller will train with and play alongside German youth national team call-up Arne Schulz. Schulz, who is a year older than Miller, is one of Germany’s best young goalkeepers.

“It’s a once-in-a lifetime chance to learn from Arne, who’s been really supportive and helpful as I worked to catch-up with the game here in Germany,” Miller said.

Miller is one of only two American goalkeepers in the 2004 age group training with a high-level European academy. Alex Borto is between the posts for Premier League FC Fulham’s academy teams.