MONTREAL – Someone might as well have just torn Eric Miller’s plane ticket in two right in front of him.
That was essentially the implication the Montreal Impact left back’s hamstring injury in Saturday’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas had on his impending trip to play for the US U-23 national team in the prestigious 2015 Toulon Tournament in France.
Miller didn’t have official word when he had to leave the FCD match in the 36th minute, but Montreal were indeed going to release him for the tournament, which would have been the second time in his career he’s played at Toulon.
“It’s disappointing,” Miller told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “It’s frustrating. I’ve had a couple of camps when I didn’t get released for, too [because of the CONCACAF Champions League]. It’s been frustrating, but obviously I just want to get healthy, try to get some games in and try to get back.”
There was still some good news on Tuesday. According to Miller, the MRI he underwent the previous day was encouraging. He expects to be out for some 10 days, keeping him out of Saturday's away match against the Chicago Fire (8:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE).
Now, for the bad news: This is the second hamstring injury in less than a year for Miller, who was out for four weeks last season. Head coach Frank Klopas sees some bad luck with many injuries his players have suffered, but he hinted on Tuesday that the team can do better to prevent soft tissue injuries.
“I think certain guys, over a year and a half, there's some kind of history that we need to be on top of, to know that some guys, over three games in a week where they play, they're more high-risk,” Klopas said. “And it doesn’t matter the age or stuff like that. Their bodies are like that. It’s unfortunate.”
The Impact haven’t been helped by having to switch between grass and turf. They have played 15 games in all competitions so far – nine on grass, six on turf. They trained on grass in Mexico and in Costa Rica for CCL preparation. But they trained on turf at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium ahead of the CCL final, and are now on a different turf surface at the training field next to Stade Saputo.
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Only recently did the Impact start training on the one available grass field at their new training center, which is still under construction.
“We stayed on turf, then went to grass and went back on turf,” Klopas said. “For sure, that's a big reason for it.”
Miller, meanwhile, will only watch the Toulon Tournament from Montreal – it started badly for the US, who lost 3-1 to hosts France on Wednesday. Still, Miller is confident that his absence won’t hurt his standing in the player pool; he has been showing his worth in MLS and Amway Canadian Championship games.
“With the guys that are going [to Toulon] now, they have the opportunity to play really good games and show what they can do,” Miller said. “But if I get back on the field and get MLS games, it should help me, to a certain degree.”
On the international stage, Miller’s objective is clear: play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It would be incredible to be able to go,” Miller said. “Hopefully, with no injuries. But first, we have to qualify. It’s not easy to qualify for the Olympics.”