Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The New York Red Bulls’ strength in depth improved on Wednesday with the news that left back Roy Miller took part in full training.
After spending the last two months recovering from what looked to initially be a serious Achilles injury, Miller trained fully with the squad as they prepare to play either the Houston Dynamo or Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS Cup playoffs. The Red Bulls will find out their opponent on Thursday night.
The Costa Rican international last played for the Red Bulls in their embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Chivas USA on August 25, leaving after 40 minutes with an Achilles problem. In Miller’s absence, David Carney, Kosuke Kimura, and Brandon Barklage have all filled in at left back for the club.
“I’m happy to be back with the entire group because it’s important to be ready for this moment when the club is preparing for the playoffs,” Miller told MLSsoccer.com. “I might not be on their level in terms of fitness or in a rhythm like them, but the important thing is that the injury is behind me, that little by little I regain my level.
“I know it’s a little late in the year, but if coach needs me for some minutes I’ll be available to try and help the group once again.”
The first half of the 2013 regular season was a breakout campaign for the 28-year-old Miller. After a series of gaffes and errors at critical points during the last two seasons including scoring an own goal against D.C. United in last season’s playoffs and then sending what would have been the game-tying free kick in the dying moments of the second leg well wide.
Following another crucial error in the second week of the season, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke gave Miller some extra time to himself ahead of the international break where he featured for Costa Rica. When Miller returned, he seemed to be a new player.
“I don’t look back on mistakes or anything like that, not at all,” Petke told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s about who’s in form now. It’s not about the past or anything like that. It’s about who’s ready to play.”
Luckily for Miller, who admitted to MLSSoccer.com that he is still only at 80 percent in terms of his fitness, the team doesn’t necessarily need him in the lineup just yet.
While he’s had his ups and downs, Carney, an Australian international, has been serviceable since he signed in August and provides much of the same skills going forward that Miller does when the Red Bulls are in possession. In addition, Miller can even provide cover at center back if there are injuries or suspensions to the trio of Ibrahim Sekagya, Markus Holgersson, and Jamison Olave.
What do you think of this report? Do you see Miller playing a part in any games in the next seven days? Do you believe he’d be a good player to have on the bench? Are you worried about his prior gaffes and errors ruining the Red Bulls chances in the postseason?
Share your thoughts below.