Monday, October 26, 2015
Rochester Rhinos goalkeeper Brandon Miller was waiting for his opportunity during the previous three seasons, and in 2015 he took full advantage of earning the starting role.
Miller was named the 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year and selected to the All-League First Team on Monday after leading the Rhinos to the 2015 USL Championship.
With the help of head coach Bob Lilley and goalkeeper coach Gavin McInerney, Miller made tremendous strides this season as he individually set a USL single-season record with 13 shutouts and capped the year with a 2-1 overtime victory against the LA Galaxy II to win the USL crown.
“It was great,” Miller said of his season. “It was a huge step in my career. Bob and Gavin both helped me, and all the goalkeepers on the team, play at such a high standard. They had high expectations for us, and they just wanted us to grow throughout the season.”
Miller said he sensed early in the campaign that this group could be a force throughout the year.
“We knew about three or four games into the season that it was going to be tough for any team to break us down,” Miller said. “We handled everything well and were optimistic. Throughout the season, our confidence grew.”
Rochester opened the year with an impressive 19-game unbeaten streak, and during the regular season the defense allowed a miniscule 15 goals – a USL record.
The Rhinos secured the first postseason berth, earned the regular-season title with a 17-1-10 record and went unbeaten at Sahlen’s Stadium during the regular season (12-0-2) and postseason (3-0-0).
While Miller’s regular-season save total (46) was not through the roof, large credit to minimizing that number went to the collective defensive effort for being the type of group that stepped up to ward off potential scoring opportunities.
“I think my starting position helped me take command of the box a bit more and play a bit higher so I was staying connected to our back four,” Miller said. “By doing that, we were able to cut out dangerous situations.”
Success breeds opportunities, and this week Miller is training with Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City.
“Like any player, you want to play at the highest level, and I’m really just looking forward to showing other people what I can do,” said Miller, who flew into Kansas City on Friday. “Obviously after a season that we had as a team, and me individually, my agent was able to reach out to a few teams and they were interested in seeing me.”
Whatever the future may hold for the 25-year-old Miller, one thing that has been etched in stone is his 2015 championship campaign.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words,” Miller said of the team. “This group that was put together had a special season. It was a great group of guys, and we reaped the benefits.”