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

Kenny Miller, Tyson Wahl

Vancouver Whitecaps’ Nigel Reo-Coker, left, of England, and Kenny Miller, of Scotland, celebrate Miller’s goal against the Columbus Crew during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday March 9, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

AP

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.)