Kenny Miller made his first Major League Soccer start in over two months on Saturday and he made a case for why he should start a few more in the coming weeks, scoring the decisive goal for the Vancouver Whitecaps in a gutsy 2-1 away win over the New York Red Bulls that marked their first road victory this season.
It was just the third start and fourth appearance for the Scottish Designated Player this season, who has struggled with injuries and also missed time earlier in the season due to international commitments and the birth of a child. But when Miller has played this season, he has shown well, scoring three times in his four appearances and contributing plenty more on both sides of the ball.
He demonstrated once again this weekend how deadly he can be, making a perfectly timed run to get his head on the end of a cross from attacker Russell Teibert.
While head coach Martin Rennie has never attempted to use his countryman’s absence as an excuse for the team’s slow start to the season, on Saturday he made a point of suggesting not everybody has factored in Miller’s absence when judging his side’s performances to date.
“We missed him,” head coach Martin Rennie told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the win. “I don’t think people have really – they don’t really analyze deeper into the games.”
Miller latched onto Teibert’s fantastic ball into the area in the 84th minute and now, the 33-year-old forward is hoping the goal encourages the team’s wide players to get the ball into the area more often and with greater accuracy to give the side’s strikers more goal scoring opportunities.
“If you watch it again, that’s a run I made maybe two or three times previous to the actual ball coming in,” Miller told TEAM 1410. “Once or twice, it never came in, and maybe once it went kind of too long. But if the ball comes into that area, any forward thrives on it, because it’s so difficult to defend.
“It’s fallen into a dangerous area where the goalkeeper always finds it maybe hard to come out and take it, and the defenders find it hard to defend it, which gives the strikers maybe more of an edge to make that run.”