SEATTLE — When LAFC’s inaugural Starting XI was announced at CenturyLink Field, only one name received a loud ovation: Tyler Miller.
The former Seattle Sounders goalkeeper spent the past three years in Rave Green primarily as Stefan Frei’s backup. LAFC selected Miller with this first pick in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft this past offseason and won the starting role under Head Coach Bob Bradley. On Sunday, he helped best his former team by way of a 1-0 shutout despite facing 22 shots.
Coming back to Seattle, a place where he began his MLS career, was special for the 24-year-old. He even asked Frei to exchange jerseys when the Sounders visit LAFC on April 29.
“Playing against Seattle was a good moment for me to be back here because I really enjoy this city, I really like this city and this organization,” Miller said. “It was a funny experience because before the game I was saying hi to everybody. Everything was friendly, good humor and good banter. At the end of the day, it’s 90 minutes and you’re out there playing a soccer game and having fun.”
Miller started only two regular-season games while in Seattle, but his one postseason start helped the Sounders return to MLS Cup. After Stefan Frei was unable to play in Houston for the first leg of last year’s Western Conference Championship, Miller stepped up and earned a road shutout to help stake Seattle to a massive 2-0 lead heading into the return leg.
Miller’s performance on Sunday was no surprise to Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, who mentioned how good Miller’s preparation was under Seattle’s goalkeeping coach Tom Dutra. Miller echoed that sentiment as well.
“This is not an easy place to come and play,” said Miller. “Training under Tommy Dutra and Stef, as well as Bryan Meredith and the other goalies I got to train with, this was a great way to bring everything full circle. I had a great two-and-a-half years here, a lot of great development over that course. To be able to come back here and put on a good performance meant a lot to me.”