As recently as a month ago, Kenny Miller's name was being thrown around with the likes of Rafa Marquez, Mista and Denilson -- names most consider the biggest Designated Player busts in MLS history. Miller had come to the Vancouver Whitecaps on a rather fat contract and mostly struggled.
Coming into this season, the Scottish forward had scored two goals in 13 games. Although he had scored in two of his first three appearances of 2013, he had missed the next seven matches. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps' season was falling apart, as they went seven matches without a win at one point.
An interesting thing happened a few week ago, though, Miller suddenly started playing well and the Whitecaps followed suit. It was Miller's late goal that lifted them to a rare road win over the New York Red Bulls on June 1. Miller then scored a brace, while drawing a penalty that set up another goal, in a 4-3 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday.
The performance against the Revolution, in particular, suggests the Whitecaps may finally be getting the Kenny Miller they thought they were signing almost two years ago. Miller was an absolute force on offense, starting with his ability to draw the penalty -- and the subsequent red card -- that turned around the match for the Whitecaps.
Sure, it was a soft penalty as the replays showed that Andrew Farrell only gave Miller a slight push in the back. But give credit to Miller for getting behind Farrell and creating the dangerous situation.
While the penalty may have been soft, Miller's two goals were about as good as they come. The first one, which was the equalizer, was an absolutely spectacular display of finesse, speed and finishing. After a teammate won a header at midfielder, Miller ran onto the ball and tapped it over Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy, sped around the defender, then controlled the bouncing ball by heading it down to himself and then struck a left-footed ball on a full run that beat Bobby Shuttleworth to the far post.
The second goal -- which stood up as the eventual game winner -- showed a different kind of skill. Off a long ball from Camilo, Miller allowed the ball to bounce and use its backspin to come back to him as a pair of defenders floated past. Miller then lined up a half-volley from about 22 yards out and stroked it over the head of Shuttleworth.
Miller still has to prove that he can perform consistently in MLS to really silence doubters, many of whom are Whitecaps fans. But he's at least starting to show that he has the ability to earn his hefty paycheck.