HARRISON, N.J. – At some point on Wednesday, the New York Red Bulls might give a player a chance to redeem himself after enduring several postseason hardships in recent years.
Roy Miller, the Costa Rican left back who has had more than his share of playoff mishaps with the Red Bulls, could potentially see the field in the club’s decisive home leg against the Houston Dynamo in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Wednesday night (8 pm ET, MSG, Univision Deportes).
Miller only recently returned to practice after suffering an Achilles injury that sidelined him for two months. But that did not stop head coach Mike Petke from asking the veteran defender how he felt when New York gathered for training at Red Bull Arena on Monday morning.
“I told him I feel fine, and now it’s his decision if he wants to have me on the roster for the game on Wednesday,” said Miller, who has not played in a league match since Aug. 25. “The therapist was talking about [how many minutes I could play] with Mike, and if he wants to use me, I’m ready. Maybe playing a full 90 minutes would be a little bit difficult, but we’ll see what decision he takes, and I’m ready if needed.”
That may very well be the case. David Carney – who has replaced Miller in the lineup since August – struggled mightily against Houston's Boniek Garcia and was involved in both of the goal-scoring plays that allowed the Dynamo to erase a 2-0 deficit on Sunday. Carney may very well start again on Wednesday, but any sign of trouble against Garcia could force Petke to thrust Miller into action, especially since Miller holds some familiarity with the Honduran after going up against him multiple times at the international level.
“He’s a player with a lot of technique; he moves a lot,” Miller said of the World Cup veteran. “I’ve played him already, and he’s a player that you have to know how to contain, because if you allow him to gain confidence, he can do whatever he wants. The important thing is not to give him too much space, because if you allow him too much space, he will take advantage of it. But the same time, you have to be watchful of him running in behind you, because he’s a fast player. But you can’t be overconfident, and I don’t even know if I’m going to play. If I am, I will try to do my best to try and help the side.”
Starting Wednesday’s pivotal playoff match seems out of the question for Miller. Petke alluded to as much on Monday, but did not completely rule out using the veteran left back, who knows all too well how difficult the MLS playoffs can be.
“Roy seems to be OK, but he’s been out for God knows how long,” said Petke. “It’s not an easy thing just to throw someone like that into the game. We’re figuring things out, whether he’ll be part of the 18 or what role he’ll play, but he looks pretty good, and he’s feeling pretty good.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.