Kenny Miller, Tyson Wahl

The push and pull of international duty for Vancouver’s Kenny Miller; big choices loom


Two full rounds of MLS matches are stacked up against FIFA’s upcoming international break, creating the same old headaches for clubs around the league.

Sporting Kansas City will lose two important men to the U.S. World Cup qualifying effort. Seattle could lose two U.S. international strikers. The LA Galaxy will likely lose all-time scoring leader Landon Donovan and newly minted DP Omar Gonzalez as Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team faces World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 6 and 10.

In those cases, at least, the choices are fairly clear cut: He who is called shows up. Period.

The Americans are in position to qualify with another three points, so Donovan, Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey and others absolutely want to be there. Not only for the opportunity of participating in the thrilling World Cup berth-clincher, but also for the ongoing jostle for positioning within the pool.

It’s not such a moment of “case closed” with Vancouver’s Kenny Miller, who is enjoying a spry bounce this year after a 2012 MLS campaign that fell decidedly (and in some minds surprisingly) flat.  Miller’s seven goals are one reason Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps have enjoyed such a fruitful summer.

Miller’s bright work at BC Place led a call-up for Scotland, where the striker made the most of his time in the national shirt, scoring one at Wembley Stadium last week against storied rival England.

Ordinarily, an international call-up for any proud Scotsman (especially a 33-year-old in the winter of his playing days, surely with precious few of them remaining) would be a no-brainer.

(MORE: Why MLS should not play through international dates)

But Scotland is too far behind in the World Cup qualifying chase to matter, fifth in the six-team group. So what happens if Miller is summoned for qualifiers Sept. 6 (Belgium) and Sept. 10 (Macedonia)? That’s a tougher call.

Miller would miss the MLS club’s Sept. 7 match in Dallas and could well be gassed for the team’s Sept. 14 contest in San Jose. (The ‘Caps schedule is here.)

Miller told The Province over the weekend that talks will soon ensue, choices soon made, etc. But decisions would not need making if MLS would schedule a few more weeknight matches and stop playing through international dates. (Well, fewer decisions like this, at least.)

Newcastle’s Krul on crutches after injury in Dutch win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Tim Krul of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.

Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.

[ MORE: Ultimate guide to USMNT vs. Mexico ]

Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.

Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.

The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.

McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.