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Orlando City centerback Kamal Miller called up to Canadian men’s national team

Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong (9) is defended by Orlando City defender Kamal Miller (27) during the second half at SeatGeek Stadium. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando City centerback Kamal Miller’s first professional season has been a bit of a whirlwind so far.

The 21-year-old second round SuperDraft pick started in Orlando City’s first two matches of the year earned high praise from his coach and teammates.  The Canadian men’s national team announced Monday it called up Miller ahead of its match against French Guiana Sunday. The friendly will be played at BC Place in Vancouver.

“It’s an honor,” Miller said told Pro Soccer USA before leaving for his national team. “The highest honor, I believe, that I can achieve at this level so far in my career. I’ve dreamed of this since I was a kid, seeing guys that I grew up with, guys that I was coached with like Dwayne De Rosario, be superstars at that level. It’s an honor to finally get here and represent my country.”

Miller wasn’t present for Monday’s Orlando City training session. 

“The goal, definitely, is to go in there and fight and fight like I’ve been there before and not show any signs of weakness or timidness,” Miller said. “Of course, I want to go there and instantly learn from the veterans and guys that have been there for a while. But just to go in there and prove myself, that I belong at this level and this call-up is not accidental or coincidental or anything like that.”

Miller said expected teams to test him early. Miller didn’t play in Orlando City’s 3-1 loss against the Montreal Impact over the weekend, and a team spokesman told Pro Soccer USA Orlando City was managing Miller’s load, seeing as the rookie is fresh out of college.

“I expected that teams would be trying to over-commit my side and try to put me in some sticky situations but I have such a good group of guys around me that always have my back and that gave me the confidence to know that I can perform and do whatever it takes to succeed at this level,” he said.

Still, Miller said he feels like things are progressing quickly for him. 

“It does feel like it’s happening really fast,” Miller said. “I feel like I’m prepared very well for this moment by the coaching staff and by the older guys here. They’ve said, ‘Success is not a coincidence. You’ve worked hard for this, so embrace it.’ The fact that it’s happening fast is a good sign.”

“Success is not a coincidence” is a piece of advice Miller said he’s taken to heart.

“You worked very hard to be here and you wouldn’t be in the position you are if you weren’t supposed to be,” he said. “Especially in this cutthroat business, nothing really happens for no reason. Just keep pushing and you’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

Miller said in training, he’s a self-starter. Off the pitch, veteran centerback Lamine Sané has been a source of advice for the rookie.

“He’s definitely the one that has taken me under his wing and has taught me the ropes,” he said. “He’s got so much experience, played at so many different high levels that I just soak it all up and listen to him every day.”

Other training updates

Bowling Green goalkeeper Ryan Troutman, 18, was training with the Lions on Monday. The redshirt freshman keeper, who is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, is not expected to be signed by the team.

Midfielder Sebas Méndez is with Ecuador’s men’s national team ahead of its  match against the U.S. men’s national team in Orlando City Stadium.

Centerback Lamine Sané (calf) was training with the team during the segment of training open to reporters.

Forward Tesho Akindele (hamstring) was not present for the media portion of Monday’s training session.

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