Doug Miller signs an autograph after he scored his fast goal off the bench in 2018. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
One of the most prolific soccer players in Rochester history is coming out of retirement — again.
Doug Miller, the 50-year-old head coach of the Rochester Lancers announced on the Kick This! radio show Saturday morning that he has been activated to play for the club for the rest of the Major Arena Soccer League season.
“For us, it’s having a bit of maturity and on the field, traveling is tough playing so many games in so many days,” Miller told Andrew Battisti on the radio show. “When we went to Florida, we had four or five guys out with the flu. We’ve lost three of four guys to season-ending injuries and in the situation that we’re in, we need some active bodies who can come out and compete. I always have the competitive juices to want to help the organization win games and help these young guys learn the game.”
Coming off an 8-2 home loss to Utica City FC on Friday night, the Lancers (0-17) welcome the Baltimore Blast for another home encounter at the Dome Arena in Henrietta, N.Y. on Saturday at 7 p.m. Miller did not say whether he would suit up for Rochester, which also plays at Utica on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“I don’t expect to be the player I was in 2014 but just to help these guys by communicating with them, putting them in the right situations because there’s probably 50 percent of the goals that we have conceded have been situational plays.” Miller said. “If guys were organized a little bit quicker, attention to details, I think we minimize those and that’s the game plan. These guys are great human beings. They love each other, they care about each other. And to go out there and compete with them it’s like going into an alley fight. You want to make sure that somebody’s got your back and that’s one thing you can count on.”
Miller is poised to become the first Rochester athlete to play in four decades, having competed in the 1990’s and the first decade of the 2000’s with the Rochester Rhinos and with the Lancers in the 2010’s and when it happens, in the 2020’s.
“God is great. He’s given me the ability to do it,” he said. :Just enjoy the moment and go out there and try to help the team win some games. The bottom line is what Sam [Fantauzzo, team owner] has done for the soccer community the over past 30 years in wanting to support this game gives me the motivation wanting to go out there and follow in his footsteps.”
The Lancers will donate $500 to local charities for every goal Miller scores, he said.
“So, it gives me a little extra motivation in regard to going out and scoring goals in the final games of the season,” he added.
Rochester has seven games remaining this season.
Coming out of retirement is not anything new to Miller, who has put on his playing boots again at least twice, most recently with the Lancers when they finished third in MASL2 — aka M2 — in 2019.
In 2018, he suited up to aid the outdoor Lancers in a National Premier Soccer League game in 2018. Only 24 seconds after coming on against Greater Binghamton Thunder FC on June 30, 2018, Miller scored a goal.
Rochester Lancers head Doug Miller, 49, scores 24 seconds after coming on Saturday.
Posted by Michael Lewis on Saturday, June 30, 2018
Whether it has been with a roof over his head or in the great outdoors, Miller always has found a way to fill the net.
He has scored 510 career goals and registered 200 assists in a 396-game indoor career. A graduate of Loyola College, Miller drove goalkeepers crazy indoors as a member of the Baltimore Blast, Harrisburg Heat, Cleveland Crunch (96 goals), Buffalo Blizzard (208 goals in 165 matches) and the Lancers (79 goals in 74 games). He led the MISL in scoring (44 goals, 11 assists) and was MVP at the age of 43 in 2013-14.
Outdoors, he has performed with the New York Fever, Rochester Rhinos and Hershey Wildcats. In a short stint with the Lancers (National Premier Soccer League) in 2018, he scored a goal at 48. Miller also played an integral role for the Rhinos’ Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship team in 1999, scoring in the final (Rochester was the last non-MLS team to win the title).