As had been widely reported by the Costa Rican press, Roy Miller has joined Portland Timbers. Per the club's official announcement, Miller will remain on loan with Saprissa - the team he joined after leaving RBNY at the end of 2015 - "through the end of February".
The arrangement allows Miller to participate in Saprissa's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Pachuca. The two legs of that match-up will be played on February 21 and February 28. Saprissa is not the favorite to win, not least because the squad that got it to the CCL quarterfinals has been pillaged during the current off-season.
Permitting Miller to stay with Saprissa for at least its first round of CCL games in 2017 is something of an act of mercy on Portland's part. The Timbers have already poached midfielder David Guzman from the Costa Rican club. Defenders Adolfo Machado and Francisco Calvo have joined Houston Dynamo and Minnesota United respectively. And the European transfer window has just opened.
Whether Miller sticks with Saprissa beyond the CCL quarterfinals (if the team gets that far) will presumably depend on the nature of the bargain struck with Portland. A run to the final could potentially keep the player in Costa Rica until the end of April (the last game of the 2016-17 CCL is scheduled for April 26).
The Timbers are getting a player with plenty of experience in MLS. Miller spent six seasons with RBNY, racking up 140 appearances in all competitions (he's joint 11th on the club's all-time appearances list). In that time (2010-2015), the team never missed the MLS playoffs, won the Eastern Conference regular season title three times and the Supporters' Shield twice.
As D.C. United's Twitter account was quick to point out, Miller is best remembered for his talent for calamitous mistakes.
Welcome back, Roy!#DCU @TimbersFC pic.twitter.com/Pxijtqq0Wn— D.C. United (@dcunited) January 4, 2017
Unfortunately, at RBNY he tended to find ways of making his errors significant. Perhaps most notably, he was briefly banished from the team by head coach Mike Petke after attracting the fury of fans for (deliberately) encroaching on a Red Bulls' penalty - ultimately costing his team a goal.
He is also, unfairly in this writer's opinion, remembered for an ill-conceived free-kick routine in the 2012 playoffs. Handed responsibility for RBNY's last chance to avoid elimination against DC, Miller - not a set-piece specialist for the team - skied his effort and instantly became the last, disappointing memory of the season for Red Bulls' fans. Throw in his own goal in the first leg of that series, and it is perhaps understandable why the player's time at RBNY is often described in less-than-glowing terms.
But Miller was a regular starter for RBNY for five seasons (injury and the rise of Kemar Lawrence made him less significant to the Red Bulls in 2015), and those five seasons plus the last two comprise the most consistent and successful run in club history. He deserves a little more respect than he gets (not least for his role in helping the 2010 team quickly distance itself from RBNY's disastrous 2009 campaign).
At RBNY, he was primarily the team's first-choice left back. He generally seemed most comfortable in the attacking third, and combined well with Thierry Henry, unpicking defenses from the flank. But he has the ability to play center back and it seems that has largely been his position for Saprissa, where he has helped the team win another Costa Rican league title. He had a limited role in Jorge Luis Pinto's magnificent defensive unit at the 2014 World Cup, playing as a stand-in CB in the back three favored by Costa Rica during that tournament.
As age starts to limit the 32-year-old's ability to get forward, it is assumed his future lies in the center of defense. Certainly, his future now lies in Portland.
All the best, Roy.