Miller’s Homecoming Also Important to Rapids

Colorado defender Eric Miller had to think about it for a second when asked when was the last time he played soccer in Minnesota.  “I haven’t played a game in Minnesota that’s competitive since maybe High School soccer?” Eric told The Voice of C38.
Hopefully for Colorado, a large contingent of Rapids fans led by Eric’s parents can help provide extra motivation on the road where Miller grew up playing the sport that is his profession.  He admits there will be plenty of family and friends cheering for burgundy because of number 3.  “My parents are throwing a really big tailgate, all my buddies from High School will be there, so I’ve actually given up on trying to find tickets for people and just get as many as possible and lump some to my parents and see what they can figure out.  I should have good away support but my girlfriend and her brother are also out in Minnesota so it should be fun.”
“It’s just crazy sometimes when I think about the fact there’s an MLS team is something I never would’ve imagined growing up.  I watched the Thunder play at Central High School and to see them now building their own stadium is really cool.  The sense of familiarity is a bit weird because you’re going to a place you know so well but you’re not really doing the same thing you’ve always done there.”
That will ring true Sunday as Miller and the Rapids make their first trip to the University of Minnesota’s football stadium to play MNUFC.  “Obviously they’re on an upswing a little bit so that’s going to be a good test for us,” Miller says after watching the Loons recent results in some hectic contests at home.  “They’ve got an interesting little small turf field so it’ll be a little bit tough to play on but we’ve got a good group of guys and we’re going to go like we go to any road game for 3 points.  We just have to be focused the whole time and make sure we’re locked in and get a clean sheet.”
Doing that is not something Colorado has accomplished in any match but one so far in 2017-a position they’re unaccustomed to as of late.  However, Miller explains even in the latest defeat at the weekend the Rapids weren’t far away and know it’s a matter of mastering the small things and the collective confidence of the team.
“It is actually more positive than you would think after such a crushing defeat,” said Miller of his teammates’ general psyche this week.  “Going down in such a manner is not something we’re used to.  Not many people have come back and scored late goals on us.  I think we played well for 83 minutes, controlled the game, and we did play the game on our terms which is something that we haven’t done as much here as we’ve done in the past.”
Being this early in the season, it’s hard to qualify the match as “must win” but for Colorado and its restless fanbase at least some points from this match are a necessity if they want to gain back some of the swagger they built last season.
“The good thing here we do is focus almost entirely internally because it’s an extension of the way (Head Coach) Pablo (Mastroeni) lives his own life,” Eric explains to the fans.  “He wants to play on his own terms, he wants to dictate what happens instead of letting things come to you.  We’ve become a good extension of that and we’ll kind of look inside ourselves.”
If nothing else, Miller thinks the loss to RSL will serve as a fresh reminder for the remainder of the season the way one lesson did in 2016 for Colorado.  “Closing games out is tough.  I think it’s something you gain when you’re older and experienced player and obviously there’s a lot of younger players here now.”
“We saw it last year in Vancouver-we gave up a late goal that was not good and we gave 3 points up.  After that, we were able to learn from our own naïveté’ and figure out where it went wrong.  It’s one of those things where you have to make the mistake, now every game the rest of the year if we’re up in the last 10 minutes we’re thinking Salt Lake happened.  We can’t give up 2 goals and our effort has to be totally focused.”

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