The Charlotte Independence’s Brandon Miller reached a notable milestone on Saturday night, becoming only the third goalkeeper in the USL Championship’s history to record 40 regular-season shutouts for his career as the Independence took a 1-0 victory on the road against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
The five-save performance by Miller drew him level with former Charleston Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper in a tie for second place all-time, 10 back of veteran goalkeeper Evan Newton, now part of Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who had previously recorded 50 regular-season shutouts in the Championship.
The Championship’s 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year, Miller has made 123 regular-season appearances to reach 40 clean sheets. On Saturday night, he got the help of his defense to secure the landmark as both Brandt Bronico and Clay Dimick made key goal line clearances to deny the Hounds as pressure built throughout the second half. Miller closed the game with a stoppage-time save on Pittsburgh's Albert Dikwa, which wrapped up all three points and maintained Charlotte's undefeated record against the Hounds all-time.
As the Independence claimed their second victory of the young season, the resilience the side showed while down to 10 men in the closing stages was heartening to Head Coach Mike Jeffries.
“I thought it was a really gritty, hard-fought battle,” said Jeffries. “We changed the system when we went down to 10 and sat back a lot deeper. The guys made plays that were hard to make, and we chased a lot of balls down. Brandt [Bronico] covered a lot of ground for us tonight and the work rate from everybody was massive which allowed us to stay relatively organized right until the end and limit their chances.”
Miller could have a chance to equal – or surpass – Newton’s record by the end of this season. With 29 games still remaining, the Charlotte native requires 11 shutouts to become the Championship’s all-time leader. If Miller can sustain his historic average of a shutout every three appearances, the finish line could be within reach by the Independence’s final few games of the campaign.