Kamal Miller came to Orlando City courtesy of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, where he was the third pick in the second round, and the 27th overall pick. He then signed with the Lions on March 1. While Miller was a standout during his time at Syracuse, it was unclear how much he would feature for the Lions at the beginning of the year after a number of other defenders were brought in during the off-season. Over the course of the season, Miller played as a center back, a left center back in a three-man back line, and as a left back, as the rookie showed some versatility.
Miller featured in 16 games for OCSC this past season, starting 14 of those. He logged a total of 1,350 minutes and went the full 90 in every match he started. Being a defender, and a rookie at that, it’s unsurprising that Miller did not produce a goal or assist in 2019 and he attempted only one shot, which was not on target.
He averaged 1.2 tackles per match, 1.1 interceptions, 3.5 clearances, and 1.5 blocks. His clearance average was good for fifth best on the team. Miller also passed the ball with a 79.4% success rate, and won an average of 1.1 aerial duels per game. Lastly he only committed six fouls on the year, while being fouled four times himself, and drawing one yellow card.
For the most part, Miller was a steady and reliable presence at the back, and while he made his debut with a bang in the very first game of the season, I believe his best game was the 1-0 home victory over the Columbus Crew. The young defender was deployed at left back for that contest and did a fine job helping to stifle the Crew attack. In total he recorded one shot, two completed dribbles, one clearance, made two interceptions, and passed the ball at a 77% clip. While he did receive his one yellow card on the year for a foul on Gyasi Zardes, Miller looked calm and composed for most of his time on the field. It’s also rather telling that he received 14% of the fan vote for man of the match in Jenn Glasheen’s player grades piece — where he received a grade of seven.
2019 Final Grade
While Kamal’s season as a whole wasn’t as good as his match against the Crew, it was by no means a bad year for the rookie. For the most part he did a solid job defensively, and while at times he showed his inexperience by being caught out of position, on the whole it was a solid if largely unspectacular rookie season. He tended to receive middle of the pack scores from The Mane Land’s player grades pieces, with his average grade from those columns working out to a 5.5. Upon polling our writers, they agreed that a 5.5 was a fair score for Miller’s first year with OCSC, as that was also the average of the staff’s grades.
Miller got more game time than a lot of people probably expected, but James O’Connor sometimes trotting out three at the back formations combined with several injuries to Joao Moutinho and Ruan meant that he played in a little less than half of the Lions’ 2019 regular season games. While he didn’t always play his best, the experience should ultimately pay off for both him and Orlando.
Barring a rather surprising turn of events, Miller will probably be on Orlando’s roster next season. He played in a good number of games this season and overall showed enough promise for the men in charge to want to keep him around. He’s already shown he can play multiple positions across the back line, and his versatility and upside combined with the lowest salary on the team means that he’s a cheap player with a good deal of potential. He’s also learning the game, getting more experience, and gaining confidence at the international level by receiving meaningful minutes with the Canadian Men’s National Team. How much he’s involved next season will obviously depend on whoever the Lions’ next head coach is, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing more of Miller in 2020.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
- Greg Ranjitsingh (10/10)
- Santiago Patiño (10/11)
- Danilo Acosta (10/11)
- Alex De John (10/13)
- Robinho (10/14)
- Benji Michel (10/15)
- Mauricio Pereyra (10/16)
- Adam Grinwis (10/17)
- João Moutinho (10/17)
- Shane O’Neill (10/18)
- Dillon Powers (10/18)
- Carlos Ascues (10/22)
- Kyle Smith (10/23)
- Chris Mueller (10/24)