Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Kenny Miller’s 64th-minute goal on Saturday against Chivas USA didn't inspire a comeback, but it did give his team a vital bit of belief.
Bouncing back after a disappointing start to life in MLS in 2012, Miller's headed goal from an Erik Hurtado-generated rebound was the latest contribution by the Scotsman, who has started this season strongly. Call it sensible positioning or a fortuitous bounce in his direction, when the ball came Miller's way he made no mistake from close range – in stark contrast to the likes of Daigo Kobayashi, Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh, who all missed quality opportunities during the match.
Miller looked lively coming off the bench in the 2-1 loss at the Home Depot Center on Saturday – a decision made by head coach Martin Rennie after the player’s transatlantic flight back from Europe following international duty with Scotland.
“It really is [nice to have Miller back],” head coach Martin Rennie told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “He’s done well coming into the game. He’s made an impact on it. He’s a very important player for us.
“In some ways, it’s disappointing we’ve had two great games at home, then a break, then missing Kenny for those [away] games has knocked us a little bit – but we need to get over that now and move on.”
This latest performance has been typical of Miller’s contribution and he’s credited a full preseason to prepare for the extra jump in his step, which is quite a different situation than arriving midseason last year after a break from game action.
“I feel good – I’ve said that since preseason,” Miller said. “I felt fit, I’ve felt strong. … Obviously, I was looking forward to the game today to get back and get back into the swing of things.”
Beyond his goal, Miller also played a part in setting up two teammates for guilt-edged opportunities. He flicked a ball to an open Mattocks in the area in the 84th minute, before sending Manneh through alone on Dan Kennedy with a well weighted through ball in the 90th minute.
While finishing let both youngsters down on Saturday, Miller said practice can improve things going forward for the team.
“Some people find it easier than others, to score goals,” Miller said, before implying things would improve with time. “We have a lot of young lads in the team. Obviously with Kekuta’s chance right in the 90th minute, maybe you could say, if you’re that quick, you can compose yourself a little bit when you’re going through on goal.
“But everybody’s different – everyone’s different when they’re going through one on one or shooting with the goal and he was unfortunate.”