With Stefan Frei out with a hamstring strain, Miller helped the Seattle Sounders defeat the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, at BBVA Stadium, setting Seattle up for a clear path for their second trip to an MLS Cup final in as many seasons.
The match was only Miller’s third for the first team after backing up Frei, whose Sounders will now be visiting Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday (10 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TVAS, TSN 1/5 in Canada). The winner of the Western Conference Final goes one step further in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, while the loser goes home.
For the LAFC goalkeeper, who has started over 60 matches with LAFC after being acquired with the first pick in the 2017 Expansion Draft, this shot at an MLS Cup final feels special.
“When you’re part of an MLS Cup run when you’re not playing, it’s great,” Miller said, reflecting on his time in Seattle. “You’re excited for the guys that are playing and for the team and being a part of it. You don’t take it for granted, but there’s a different feeling when you’re playing and you feel like you’re fully contributing every game.”
Miller, who’s been around the US men’s national team picture as of late, will look to build off last Thursday’s 5-3 win over the LA Galaxy. Now against his former teammates, he feels that result will provide a major boost.
"We gave up a soft second goal, but everybody was committed to the team,” said Miller. “We really stuck with each other and we had this attitude that we were going to win this game. I think that really goes a long way, that confidence of knowing that no matter what happens, we’re going to be able to get the result, and we will take the same confidence going into Tuesday.”
LAFC boss Bob Bradley expects much of the same against Seattle, but knows the challenge presented by the 2016 MLS Cup winners. Namely, it’s the threat posed by the likes of Nico Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, both of whom have rounded into form this postseason.
“[Seattle] are strong and look, when games are big, the competitive part of guys comes out even more,” Bradley said. “So you have a player like Nico Lodeiro, and in many ways he’s the heart and soul of their team – and he’s not a big guy, but he’s fierce and he’s physical on the field. He gets his body into people, so we know that throughout the year, teams try to disrupt the way we play and they try to do it at times using a little bit more of a physical approach. We need to be ready for that.”
LAFC have a 3-1 all-time record against the Sounders, as well as a plus-five goal differential. But in the new single-elimination format, Bradley doesn’t put much stock into prior results against a well-drilled Sounders team.
“Seattle is always a good team and it’s been a long time since we played them,” Bradley said, referencing a 1-1 draw on April 28. “I think as the season progressed, they got stronger. You see their confidence. They are always a well-organized, solid team. So at this point in the year, we don’t spend too much time looking back at games that were such a long time ago.”