If the last 12 months have been a dream for Tyler Miller, it’s one the Los Angeles Football Club goalkeeper hopes he doesn’t wake from any time soon.
Taken with the first pick in the MLS expansion draft, Miller became a starter for the first time in his professional career when Luis Lopez, his chief competitor, arrived in training camp with a fractured tibia. Miller wound up starting 33 games, winning 16 of them, and posting 10 shutouts to lead LAFC to the playoffs.
On Thursday that performance was rewarded with a call-up to his first national team training camp, which begins Jan. 6 in Chula Vista.
“This has been a tremendous year for me. This is just an amazing way to conclude the year with a great start to 2019,” Miller said by phone from vacation in Jamaica.
Miller said he knew a call-up was possible but he didn’t dwell on that possibility.
“I knew that I had been having a good year but I didn’t worry about it,” he said. “If it happened, it happened and if it didn’t then I was just going to continue as business as always. This is just an experience to me and hopefully it’s going to be the first of many.”
The training camp will also be the first as a coach for Gregg Berhalter, who earlier this month was named to replace Bruce Arena as the full-time manager of the U.S. national team. Arena resigned in October 2017 after failing to qualify the U.S. for the World Cup and was replaced by his top assistant, Dave Sarachan, who coached the team for 13 months on an interim basis.
The 27-player roster Berhalter summoned is made up entirely of MLS players and continues Sarachan’s focus on youth, with an average age of 24 years 230 days. Just five players have appeared in more than 10 games with the national team while seven players are being called up for the first time.
“We can use this opportunity in this training camp to just start the process and set the tone for what this group is going to be like,” said Berhalter, who played under Arena and Sarachan with the national team and coached alongside them with the Galaxy.
Among the things the new coach wants to accomplish is “building a culture within the team, instilling a style of play and then competing, competing in every single thing we do.”
The oldest and most experienced player on the team is midfielder Michael Bradley, 31, a two-time World Cup performer with 142 international caps who will be counted on to provide some leadership. Left off were two other World Cup veterans, forward Jozy Altidore, who is recovering from an injury, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who is coming off a long, grueling season with MLS champion Atlanta United.
Also on the roster is Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget and LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman, a defender, and Christian Ramirez, a forward. The call-up is the second for Ramirez, who trained with the team last January but didn’t play in a game.
The 26-day camp will include friendlies with Panama on Jan. 27 in Glendale, Ariz., and Costa Rica on Feb. 2 in San Jose, Calif.
The winter training camp was moved from its traditional home at the StubHub Center in Carson to the former Olympic training center in suburban San Diego, Berhalter said, because Chula Vista provided a more concentrated environment.
“Being in Chula Vista will help us create a team environment as we start to establish our culture and really be able to work on the details of our style of play,” Berhalter said. “This will be a great place for our group to get started.”
Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Sean Johnson (New York City FC),
Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
Defenders: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Greg Garza (FC Cincinnati),
Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado Rapids),
Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Paul Arriola (D.C. United),
Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (Galaxy), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
Forwards: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Christian Ramirez (LAFC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)