He hadn't even been training with the team for a full week, when Portland Timbers defender Roy Miller was asked by his new head coach, Caleb Porter, to step into the starting lineup against the LA Galaxy.
Despite the lack of training time with his new Timbers teammates – nearly all of whom he had never played with before – the experienced Costa Rican defender helped guide a Timbers back line and preserved a shutout in a narrow 1-0 win.
But Miller didn't think what he did was all that extraordinary – it's all part of the job.
“Caleb just said prepare, be ready for the game,” Miller recalled this week of his conversation with the Timbers head coach at training ahead of the Galaxy match. “Then the day before he told me I'd be starting in that game.”
The Timbers acquired Miller from Costa Rican powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa in early January, but he did not join the team until late February after Saprissa was eliminated by Mexico's C.F. Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Before that brief stint with Saprissa, Miller had been a mainstay in defense for the New York Red Bulls. In six seasons (2010-2015), Miller appeared in nearly 140 combined matches for the Red Bulls, helping the team to two Supporters' Shield trophies in 2013 and 2015.
For the 32 year-old Miller, returning to a league and a country he grew to know so well has been both a professional surprise and a blessing.
“When I finished the contract [the Red Bulls], I felt like I could give more in MLS...so when Caleb came to me and asked me what I think about coming back to MLS I said, 'I'm very happy because I want to come back to MLS to play.'”
And when Miller finally steps out onto the Providence Park field as a Timbers player–Portland hosts Houston Saturday (7:30pm PT, ROOT SPORTS)–he will no doubt look back on all of the previous trips to Portland that he made as an opposing player, most recently in October last year when he started and played the full 90 minutes in Saprissa's 1-1 draw during CONCACAF Champions League group play.
According to Miller, the reputation of the Timbers Army and the Providence Park atmosphere preceded his and his teammates' arrival.
“I know the emotion here, the fans, it's really nice. I like it,” he said. “When I came with Saprissa, some teammates asked me what it's like to play here because they had heard some things about Portland fans and the stadium and everything. The feeling in front of the Providence Park crowd is good.
“To be honest, I missed that feeling from MLS, so when I came with Saprissa, it was so great to play against Portland in that game.”
And while the veteran MLS defender has already eased into his return to the league, he's joined this time by former Saprissa teammate and fellow Costa Rican, midfielder David Guzmán.
“It's good to have Guzmán on the team because it's always good to have a player from my country like him,” said Miller. “I can support him, he can support me and we can help each other. I'm happy to have another Costa Rican player here with me.”