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Postcard from Europe: Miller eyeing bigger things

Postcard from Europe: Miller eyeing bigger things

AMSTERDAM – With an exciting first US camp under his belt, Halmstads BK right back Ryan Miller is turning focus to preseason prep for the new Swedish top-flight campaign, with a view to better things ahead than last season’s 12th-place disappointment.

“It’s a small club, but it’s the only small club in Sweden that’s won a championship,” Miller boasted to MLSsoccer.com by phone, in a fashion sure to make the home faithful proud. “The fans are a little bit spoiled for a small club, they expect big things. When we have seasons like last year, they can’t stand it. You feel bad walking around town because you’re letting them down.”

Miller was limited to cup play in short MLS stints with the Columbus Crew and D.C. United, but managed to make a difference in his rookie campaign in Sweden.

After earning a move up from second-flight Ljungskile, the 26-year-old Chicago area native saw the field for 26 of 33 league matches in his first season with Halmstads. He hopes for another step up one day, but doesn’t expect it to come until he goes free next December.

“I’ve got two years left on my contract, so I have a while,” said the Notre Dame alum. “I plan on playing out my two final years, and of course, I want to play at the highest level possible. If I can switch to a bigger venue, I’ll do that. Scandinavia is a good window into Europe. There’s always scouts at games. A lot of teams come here and grab players for cheap.”

Miller came close to reaching the international level with his participation in this year’s January USMNT camp. He did not get a cap at the end of it, but you won’t catch the defender complaining any about the call-up.

He admits to being so stunned when the official email arrived from US Soccer that he first had to verify if it was real.

“It definitely took me by surprise,” Miller laughed. “They hadn’t [contacted me prior] and I didn’t know how they went about it.”

“The experience was incredible,” he declared. “The coaches are top-class. You can see how competitive [Bradley] is. He does a very good job of instructing people, even though he was limited physically. There was nothing that was going to stop him from doing what he does. And he was in pain, he was always in the training room.”

With that influence now brought back to Sweden, Miller will start trying to earn his next US call when Halmstads open the 2011 season with an April 2 visit from Kalmar.

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