HOUSTON — As Colin Miller emerged from the Canadian locker room at BBVA Compass Stadium, his face was plastered with an ear-to-ear grin.
His voice hoarse from 90 minutes of bellowing, Canada's interim head coach gushed at the amount of pride he was feeling for his young team that spent nearly an entire game defending but came through the other side unscathed in a 0-0 draw with the United States on Tuesday night.
“I thought tonight, our players showed everything about a Canadian football team that we would expect in terms of heart, commitment, endeavor, everything,” Miller told reporters. “It might not have been the silkiest performance at times, but I’ll tell you what: If we were going to give a goal away tonight, it was going to be through a mistake.”
Miller is in his second stint in charge of the Canadian national team, and he’s never had an easy assignment. In three games in charge in 2003, Canada played and lost to Finland, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland — all teams that were well ahead of Canada.
Looking at the opponents ahead of the camp this month, and especially given the inexperienced roster Miller had to work with, it was good odds that by the end of it, the Scotsman would still be without a win or a draw as Canada’s head coach.
“That’s what I’ve told the guys. That’s my first point in five games,” he said. “I’m so proud to get a good result. It means the world to me. I’m very proud of the players. They’ve been totally committed since I’ve arrived.”
The result doesn’t gloss over the fact that there’s still a long way to go for this program. When Canada next line up in March in a friendly against Japan in Qatar, it will likely be under another coach as Miller returns to his day job as head coach of FC Edmonton of the NASL. But from what’s been accomplished in a short amount of time, Miller sees reasons to be optimistic.
“Now, hopefully the penny has dropped,” he said. “There were some incredible performances there tonight. The guys have learned that in order to get results away from home, that defensive ask is absolutely massive.”