With no scheduled yet in sight, Minnesota United goalkeeper Tyler Miller virtually will represent his team in the only way left.
He will play for the Loons in a five-week, single-elimination eMLS Tournament Special featuring players competing in EA Sports FIFA 20 video game and each team’s eMLS pros as well. That’s Jay Adams for the Loons.
It’s similar to the just-concluded NBA Players tournament won by Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker.
Miller might not be the best FIFA 20 player on the Loons but he calls it the time to give soccer supporters “longing for something to watch” games of the virtual kind while the MLS season is paused indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, MLS announced it’s “extremely unlikely” it will resume play in mid-May, the target date it set when it followed on March 19 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the next eight weeks.
It also said Tuesday its goal remains “to play as many games as possible” and it said, “while we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so.”
Meanwhile, Miller stays in his Minneapolis apartment as much as possible. He has tried to stay fit by running and does weekly yoga and strength-and-conditioning workouts by video calls.
He also has passed the time “trying” to play guitar, Face-timing family and friends with whom he has talked for a long time and shopped to make stews and other meals when he could and even found toilet paper.
“Target had some, thankfully,” he said.
He also wore a red Christmas suit and tie – bought for a Christmas trip with his family a few years ago – that moves around the country with him when he does for an international “Stay at Home Challenge.” He participated by juggling a roll of toilet paper with his feet until he well surpassed 10 touches.
He’s getting used to a Minnesota spring as well, posting on Instagram Tuesday a video of him bundled up in the snow with the temperature – 26 degrees – superimposed.
“I’ve never had a white Easter before,” Miller said.
He’ll also use this time to brush up on his FIFA 20 skills before the Loons play Sporting Kansas City April 26. The tournament – similar to the NBA Players tournament just won by Phoenix’s Devin Booker – starts Sunday with former Minnesota United captain Francisco Calvo helping kick it off.
Each Sunday for the next five weeks MLS players and eMLS players will compete for their teams in games carried by Fox Sports, FS1 and Fox Deportes. Food banks in the United States and Canada will benefit after every week leading to a champion crowned on May 17.
“For me personally, it’s a different thing to look forward to,” said Miller, acquired from LAFC in a January trade. “It gives people longing for sports something to watch, just to have that live feeling, even though it’s just a video game. It still has that unpredictability, something different in their lives.”
He says he’s “not too bad” at FIFA 20, but also said it doesn’t mean he’s best among all his teammates. He’ll represent them in a first-round game April 26 against Sporting’s Wan Kuzain. He and Adams will play separate games in a two-legged competition.
You can expect he’ll have high expectations for the Loons’ goalkeeping in this MLS Tournament Special.
“We’ll see how our goalkeeper is,” Miller said. “If he doesn’t do well, we’re going to have to take him out of the game at halftime. He’s on a short leash.”