With injuries and suspension plaguing Atlanta United’s defense ahead of their clash with LAFC, Tata Martino turned to the second overall pick from the 2017 MLS Superdraft, Miles Robinson.
It was a big moment for the 21-year old, who had yet to make an appearance in Major League Soccer since being drafted last year. If there were nerves, they didn’t show as Robinson impressed in Atlanta’s 5-0 thumping of LAFC.
Slotting into a back three alongside Michael Parkhurst and Chris McCann, Robinson looked comfortable from start to finish and came up with a handful of crucial blocks throughout the game. A standout moment from the young defender came just before halftime as he blocked Latif Blessing’s shot from close range, before clearing it from danger.
Great defensive effort by Miles Robinson to block Blessing's shot, and then make the clearance from the ground. He's doing fairly well so far in his #MLS debut. #ATLUTD #LAFC #ATLvLAFC pic.twitter.com/tcC0VzxZTd— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 7, 2018
Robinson was again important in the second half as he stopped Diego Rossi from going 1v1 with Brad Guzan. The defender used his speed to recover quickly and cut off Rossi, just before the striker could fashion a chance. Robinson had two huge moments that kept Atlanta United 1-0 up, before they went on an offensive onslaught in the latter stages of the game.
Despite being just 21 years old, and making his league debut, Robinson looked composed and experienced in Atlanta’s back three. His awareness and positioning helped keep LAFC’s impressive attack quiet for most of the game, and bags of pace helped the young defender recover when he did make the rare mistake.
With Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez returning from suspension and other defenders recovering from injury, Robinson’s future in the starting lineup is clouded. One game is a small sample size, but the talent is clearly there and Robinson’s future in Major League Soccer is bright.
For now, the 21-year old has proven he can be key for Atlanta moving forward, but whether that is starting or as depth remains to be decided. His performance against LAFC was one of many positives, and if not for Julian Gressel’s offensive impact, he probably would’ve earned the Man of the Match award on his debut.
Prior to this season, plenty of doubt remained surrounding Miles Robinson, who had failed to break into Atlanta’s squad. When the time came to be called upon, the Syracuse alum showed he was more than ready for the big stage and has likely earned more starts in the future. Against LAFC, he showed off his impressive athleticism on more than one occasion, and combined with a composed head, it’s tough to see him not playing a bigger role this season than many expected.
Against LAFC, Robinson’s talent was on show for all to see and the question remains, just how big of a role should he play for the rest of this season?