IT'S MILLER TIME, AGAIN: Lancers player-coach, Doug Miller 51, goes full circle for MASL all-star game

Sports all-star games have been known to celebrate standouts of their past as honorary captains, but the Major Arena Soccer League Tuesday took it one step further Tuesday.

The indoor soccer league named a 51-year-old forward to compete in its first all-star game.

Doug Miller, the player-coach of the Rochester Lancers, was chosen to perform for the Eastern Conference team in all-star game in Kansas City, Mo. Dec. 5. Utica City FC midfielder Darren Toby, who performed for the Lancers (National Premier Soccer League) also was named to the Eastern Conference team as well.

"It's very nice to be asked to play in the all-star game with guys that are much younger than me," Miller said. "I didn't necessarily pay my dues last year, but I can say I paid my dues over 30 years."

Miller, 51, has forged a legendary career as an indoor and outdoor player. In the great indoors, Miller recorded 513 goals and 202 assists in 398 games over 17 seasons while playing for six indoor clubs across four leagues.

"The ageless wonder and scoring machine. Amazing!" Lancers owner Salvatore "SoccerSam" Fantauzzo said.

What makes his story even more unique is that Miller is still playing with the Lancers, albeit on a part-time basis. But as the Kansas City Comets discovered last year, Miller still has some bite to his kick, scoring twice in the 9-7 home victory over the Kansas City Comets on March 7. A day earlier he found the net in a 10-7 loss to the Florida Tropics, becoming the first American player to score in four decades.

"When Leo [Gibson, KC player-coach] called me a couple weeks ago, I kind of chuckled and laughed a bit about it under my breath, because I played two games last season, and won against Leo, where we got our only win," Miller said. "I played pretty well. So maybe he was just looking at that one game."

In many respects, Miller is going full circle in his indoor career. In 1991, the original Comets selected the Loyola College standout as the first pick in the Major Indoor Soccer League draft, but the franchise folded prior to the season. Miller joined the Baltimore Blast instead, embarking on an illustrious career.

"It's a nice way to maybe cap off a career and play with guys like Leo Gibson , Max Ferdinand, Ian Bennett, Dave Boudreau, Darren Toby, those guys that I competed against, for many, many years," Miller said.

Miller said he was taken the upcoming all-tar game seriously, having worked out recently.

"I've actually cut weight and have been training for the last three weeks because I want to make a good show when I get out there," he said.

Miller said he hasn't participated in an indoor soccer all-star game since the National Professional Soccer League held its 1999 extravaganza in Edmonton, Canada in 1999. During that season, Miller enjoyed a monster year with a career-best 92 goals while adding 23 assists in 40 games for Buffalo.

After not playing indoors for a decade, Miller came out of retirement to win MISL MVP honors with the Lancers in 2012-13, finishing with 44 goals and 11 assists in 26 appearances.

For the record, Miller has played for the Blast (MISL) in 1991-92, Harrisburg Heat, Cleveland Crunch and Buffalo Blizzard (National Professional Soccer League) from 1992-93 through 2000-01, the Lancers (in another version of MISL) from 2011-13) and then the Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights (MASL) from 2014-16 and then 2019-20.

Lancers owners Salvatore "SoccerSam" Fantauzzo wasn’t surprised about Miller’s latest honor. He remembered when he saw Miller play indoors for the first time - for the Crunch against the Blizzard in 1994. The Crunch captured the 1994 and 1996 NPSL championships.

"Two shifts in and I knew this kid was special," he said.

"We were fortunate to have him become a Rochester Rhinos and he helped us make us Soccer Town USA."

Miller helped the Rhinos to the 1998 A-League title and to the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crown, the last non-Major League Soccer club to win that championship.

"He dazzled Buffalo fans, joining the Blizzard in the Rhinos' offseason," Fantauzzo said.

"He's the hardest working person on and off the field I've ever met. I'm honored that he now operates our Lancers team and more honored that he's such a great friend!”

The Dec. 5 all-star game is the unofficial kickoff to the MASL season, whose start has not been determined. Some teams might want to play a traditional Dec. 31 match if local COVID-19 pandemic protocols are followed, while others, such as the Lancers are willing to wait until early 2021 to start their campaign.

"It's a nice way to bring back [the sport] and especially in what is the new norm right now where people are missing, some indoor soccer where we get some fans to interact," Miller said