Seven years and 130 games later, Miller finally delivered his first MLS goal — and it was a big one as it proved to be the game-winner in the Portland Timbers’ 3-1 victory over the sputtering Union on Saturday.
“It’s good, I’m happy,” Miller told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve never scored in MLS and today was the moment. But the more important thing is we got the three points, and I’m helping the team get those three points.”
Miller has certainly been a valuable contributor in his first season in Portland, filling in for injured captain Liam Ridgewell over the last five games and providing veteran leadership along the backline for the surging Timbers (4-1-1).
And that’s exactly what Portland coach Caleb Porter thought the 32-year-old center back was capable of when the Timbers signed him via a transfer from Costa Rican club Saprissa in January. Before that, the Costa Rican native played six seasons for the New York Red Bulls.
“That wasn’t the sexiest signing for a lot of people,” Porter said. “But we thought, ‘Listen, this guy’s gonna be a great center back for us.’ I thought he’d be a cover guy but Ridgewell’s been out for the last five games. That’s why we signed him, to be able to step in. He’s left-footed, he knows the league, he knows English, he knows [David] Guzman, he knows every stadium — those are really important things, especially in your reserves.”
Of course, any kind of offense from Miller is simply a bonus for the Timbers. But on Saturday, the 6-foot-2 center back rose up to flick a perfectly placed Diego Valeri free kick, which then hit off Union defender Richie Marquez’s head and into the net.
“Diego kicked a good [free-kick] and I just tried to get to the end,” Miller said. “Marquez touched it a little bit. It was good the ball went in — and then we just celebrate.”
The Timbers have been doing a lot of celebrating so far this season, and Miller — who said he’s happy to be at center back after playing a lot of left back in New York — is one big reason why.
“He’s been a great signing,” Porter said. “In five games played, he’s not stepped a wrong foot. He’s been outstanding.”