VENTURA, California – In 1990, most of the players at the current Whitecaps FC offseason training camp were still in diapers. Colin Miller and Tom Soehn, meanwhile, were in the prime of their playing careers.
Miller and Soehn were teammates, playing together for the Hamilton Steelers in the old Canadian Soccer League. They were also roommates, living together with former Canadian international Paul James.
Now they’re teamed up again, this time with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Miller is an assistant coach with the team, while Soehn is the club’s director of soccer operations.
“It had been a while since I’d seen him,” said Soehn. “It’s always good to catch up with old mates.”
Both men were gritty, hard-nosed defensive players who weren’t afraid to do the dirty work; traits that helped each achieve great success on the field.
Miller split his playing career between Canada and Scotland, notably playing two seasons with world-famous Rangers FC. He also earned 61 caps for the Canadian national team, scoring five goals.
“Colin was a guy that showed up every day and you knew what you were going to get,” described Soehn of Miller.
Soehn, meanwhile, had a celebrated MLS career, winning three U.S. Open Cup titles and one MLS Cup with the Dallas Burn and Chicago Fire.
“He was a wholehearted guy and he always worked hard,” stated Miller of his former teammate. “We were never the most graceful players on the field, but no one could ever question our commitment.”
While the two played similar styles, Miller makes no mistake in distinguishing between their contributions while playing together.
“If you notice, I have a small hump on my back, that’s actually from carrying Tommy,” jokes Miller. “He’ll probably say otherwise, but I know different.”
Jokes aside, Miller has great admiration for the work that Soehn has done with Vancouver.
“It was nice to see that he’d been appointed to his position with the Whitecaps,” said Miller. “He’s been around the MLS for a long time and he obviously knows the ins and outs. He’s done a great job so far with the club and it’s nice to be back with such a great staff.”
According to Soehn, the respect is mutual.
“He was a great pro on and off the field and he’s carried that into his coaching career,” he said. “I’ve got a genuine respect for him.”
A respect that was no doubt built while listening to New Kids on the Block summer hit of 'Step by Step' while driving to the training ground in Hamilton.