May 28, 2021
The Rochester Lancers head coach knows what his team has to do to reach the National Premier Soccer League playoffs - accrue 21 points.
After securing only one point in the team's opening two games, no one has to remind Miller how vital the next three matches - all on the road are - starting with Sunday's contest at Cleveland SC.
"I told the guys last night: 'If we're going finish top two and make the playoffs, we're going to end up with 21 points, ' " he said Friday. "So we have eight games left and so how do we get 20 points in the next eight games? Do the math, you have to win games on the road. You can't tie, but you need to end up with 21 points. That's been the number for the last several years in regards to making the playoffs."
Rochester kicked off the season with a 1-1 home draw to Cleveland May 16 and dropped a 3-0 decision to FC Buffalo at Aquinas Institute May 23.
"We put ourselves behind the right ball last week, losing to Buffalo," Miller said. "So, we've got to come out and try and frustrate Cleveland, limit their chances and then try to steal a goal on a free kick, a counter attack and get away with three points."
Lukas Fernandes' late penalty allowed the Lancers to register the tie in the season opener two weeks ago.
"They were the better of the two teams when we played them the first time," Miller said. "We were fortunate enough to come up with a point. Going into this weekend's game, we've trained to play very defensive, to pack it in, to make it difficult for them to break the lines and create chances. We had two good training sessions the past two days. Hopefully we'll be prepared to frustrate them and then look to counter."
Miller praised the play of captain and defender Jake Schindler and goalkeeper Brian Wilkin in the first two games.
"Obviously, Jake is consistent every time he stepped on the field," he said. "I thought Brian played well, making three saves that kept us in the game."
"We lack creativity, attacking-wise," Miller said. "In a very short period of time we haven't been able to really have that continuity. ... Right now we're looking for players to step up and to start to have influence on the game, and really put their stamp on it. Hopefully, that happens, this weekend."
The Lancers will play the next two matches on the road. After Cleveland, they will visit the Erie Commodores June 6.
Rochester returns home for three consecutive home games at Charles A. Schiano Sr. Field, facing the Pittsburgh Hotspurs June 13, Erie Commodores June 20 and Syracuse FC June 27. All matches kick off at 5 p.m. ET.
For more information about the team, visit www.RochesterLancers.com